It’s that time again! Medicare’s open-enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. During this time frame, beneficiaries can move between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. (In the latter, participants receive Medicare benefits through private health plans, such as health maintenance organizations.) At the same time, beneficiaries are able to choose or change Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans.
My colleagues at the website grandparents.com were kind enough to interview me recently regarding Medicare Part D Open Enrollment ….Below is an abbreviated version of the article/blog….These expert tips will help you work your way through the Medicare maze to find the plan that’s right for you…
By Deborah Long
Every year we have the option to update our Medicare Part D plan during open enrollment. If you haven’t finalized your decision for the Plan D coverage that will cover your prescriptions because you find the process overwhelming, you’re not alone. But taking the time to figure out which plan is for you, can save you hundreds of dollars. We went to Dr. Alexis Abramson, Ph.D., a leading advocate for senior health and wellness issues, for her best tips on how to pick the right plan for you.
Tip #1: Remember to Enroll for Part D
“It seems so obvious, I know, but my first piece of advice to folks is to be sure you enroll. There still are people who think enrollment is automatic, and while in some cases that may be true for Medicare Parts A and B, it is never true for Medicare Part D,” says Dr. Abramson.
Tip #2: Know What’s New
“Each year, plan premiums, deductibles, prescription copayments and annual out-of-pocket expenses can change. To choose the most cost-effective plan for you, map out all these elements to calculate the total cost of the plan. And don’t forget to factor in what’s new for you personally, too. If you’re traveling more, or you’ve moved, or have new prescriptions, be sure to take those things into consideration when you select your plan.”
Tip #3: Ask for Help
“Selecting the right plan can improve your coverage and help save you money, but the process can be overwhelming. Most pharmacists take their role as trusted advisors seriously, so don’t be afraid to ask for their advice on the best plan for you. They’re well-versed in the options available, have a thorough understanding of the process and are also medication experts.”
Tip #4: Use a Plan Finder
“Online search tools are your friends! They’re great for helping you sift through all the options out there to find the most cost-effective plan and they’re easy to use,” says Dr. Abramson. “You enter basic information, like your zip code and the medications you take, and the system will compare all the available plans for you. Medicare has one, as do other companies, like Walmart.
Tip #5: Understand the Importance of Preferred Pharmacies
On a final note, Dr. Abramson encourages you to understand the significance of Preferred Pharmacies. “A pharmacy accepted as “preferred” by a Medicare Part D Plan is a network pharmacy that offers covered drugs to plan members at lower out-of-pocket costs than what the member would pay at a non-preferred network pharmacy. This can make huge difference in what you’ll pay.”