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As you journey down the road towards choosing a Medicare prescription drug plan, you’ll likely hit some bumps along the way. Below are some tips to help you navigate the roadblocks and enroll in a Part D plan that best meets your needs.
Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind while considering your Part D options:
Don’t delay. It takes time to research and find the plan that best meets your needs. Make sure to start that research early to make sure you have enough time to identify and consider your options. Be sure to enroll before December 7th to avoid paying late enrollment penalty fees.
Do check a plan’s formulary (the list of drugs the plan covers) to make sure that all the prescription medications you currently take are covered. Also talk to your doctor about drugs that you may be prescribed in the coming year, so you can make sure that those are also on the formulary. While you can’t predict all your future prescription needs, it’s best to be well prepared for the ones that could be added to your treatment plan in the months ahead.
Don’t make your decision based solely on the plan’s monthly premium. The cost of the premium is only one factor to consider when determining the full cost of the plan. Deductibles and copayments also need to be considered, as well as the medications you take. If you regularly take only one or two prescription drugs, then a low premium plan may work well for you. However, if you take three or more medications, you may require more comprehensive coverage than a low premium plan offers. Remember to always evaluate the overall annual costs of the plan when making your selection.
Do opt for a plan with a preferred pharmacy network that includes your current retail pharmacy or another one that’s conveniently located. Preferred pharmacies offer lower copays for prescription drugs. If you’re on a medication that you take regularly for a chronic condition, you may be able to save even more money if there is a preferred mail delivery pharmacy option. It’s also easy and convenient to get your prescriptions delivered right to your home.
Don’t ignore Star Ratings. Plans are given between one and five stars by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) based on several factors including customer service and the quality of the care provided by the plan. Make sure to always check the plan’s Star Rating before you make your final decision.
Do seek out help in choosing a plan. Reading through each plan’s fine print and understanding what it all means is no easy task. Once you’ve done your research, take advantage of resources that are available to help guide you through the final decision-making process. Some of that help can be found right in your community. Your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provides a call line to answer Medicare questions. There are also Medicare insurance brokers that are available free of charge and can help you find the plan that meets your needs.
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Tips for enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan
Key Dates for Medicare Part D Annual Enrollment Period
Plan Information Available:
Note: The late enrollment penalty is 1% of the national average premium for every month you were without Part D prescription drug coverage or other creditable prescription drug coverage following your initial enrollment period, or if you had a break in creditable prescription drug coverage of 63 or more consecutive days. Creditable prescription drug coverage (for example, from an employer or union) means that it is expected to pay, on average, as much as Medicare’s standard prescription drug coverage. You will pay this late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part D coverage.
Enrolling in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan (PDP) is an important process that requires time and research, but it shouldn’t be a difficult one if you’re prepared well in advance for any potential bumps in the road. Unfortunately, nine in 10 people wait until the last minute to select a plan. (more…)
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