It’s that time a year again for open enrollment for Medicare D -the Prescription Drug Plan. Starting October 15 and closing December 7 is this year’s period for open enrollment. It is the one time of the year where you can make changes in your prescription drug plan. I recommend that anyone on Medicare D take this opportunity to relook at their coverage and decide if their current plan meets their needs or if a change is warranted. Even if you’ve been happy with your current coverage, it still pays to relook at your situation because things change. Not only does your individual situation change, but so do plans. Not only are premiums on the rise, but plans have also been making other changes such as charging you extra if you don’t use a certain preferred pharmacy and increasing your co-payments. Therefore, you can’t just put things on automatic pilot; you must take the time to relook at your situation and select the plan that best suits your current situation.
One of the best places to start your search is the Medicare Plan finder on Medicare’s website (www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan). Using this tool allows you to enter your medication and quantities into the finder to see what plan best suits your needs. In particular, for someone who takes multiple medications, the key is to focus on the medications that cost you the most. In addition, let’s not forget about convenience. You want to make sure to use a plan that is economical and allows you to pick up your medications at a convenient location.
In particular, for those of you that take expensive name brand or specialty medications, some plans now require you to take extra steps in order to receive your medication. In fact, some plans now have what they call step therapy where you are required to try a less expensive drug before they will cover you for the more expensive drug. The bottom line, you have to do your homework to make sure you get the plan that best suits you.
My recommendation is after you’ve done your research and you’ve decided on a plan, contact the plan and confirm your research. In that regard, when you do call make sure you document the name of the person you spoke to, the date and what they told you. This documentation may be important if a problem arises.
In shopping for Medicare Prescription D coverage, one of the mistakes people make is to assume that if a plan is good for one spouse it must be good for the other; unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Each spouse needs to independently look for a plan. After all, your medications are different and thus, the plan you use may also be different. Therefore, make sure when you do your research you look at plans independently. Of course, this may mean that in order to get the most economical plan, husband and wife may have to pick up their prescriptions at different pharmacies. I know it’s a hassle, but if it can save you a substantial amount of money, why not.
This is the one time of year when you can change your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan and thus, you don’t want to miss this opportunity. It’s a hassle and it’s frustrating; however, there’s not much alternative. Therefore, if you want to make sure you have the most economical and convenient prescription drug plan, now is the time to begin your research. Don’t wait too long to begin your search because we all know how fast time goes by and before you know it, the December 7th deadline will be here.
Rick is a fee-only financial advisor. His website is www.bloomassetmanagement.com. If you would like Rick to respond to your questions, please email Rick at -.