You can get the most out of your Medicare dollar for your Part D plan if you take a few proactive steps. And as we officially move from summer to fall, it’s the season to reassess.
Your insurer for your prescription drug plan should have sent you a relatively thick booklet or brochure entitled something like, “2016 Annual Notice of Change.” Your first instinct may lead you to dump it and forget about it. But you’ll help yourself and maybe save money if you actually go through it and look for specific information.
This does not concern your basic Medicare plan, your supplemental Part F plan, or Medicare Advantage insurance. It only involves your Medicare Part D plan.
The brochure probably looks gray and unappealing, but it spells out important facts about your drug coverage for 2016. You have from October 15 to December 7, 2015 to change your drug plan if you don’t like what your current insurer will offer.
Don’t worry about changing insurers for your Part D plan. It doesn’t affect anything else. You can do it relatively easily and you don’t owe loyalty to the company that serves you now. You can switch freely from company to company, but only in this time period.
Questions to answer for yourself
Check how much your insurer plans to increase your monthly premium. That information should appear pretty close to the beginning of the publication.
- Can you get a better deal?
My Medicare Part D premium, for example, will go up from $52.10 to $64.70. Even if you can handle the increase, shop around and compare prices to see if you can get a better deal.
- Does the insurer cover my medication(s)?
Beyond the monthly premium, you’ll save yourself a big headache and possibly a lot of money if you find out whether the insurer plans to cover the medications that you use. They generally list the drugs and the uses in a section called “Formulary.”
Insurers change their formularies every year and what they covered this year might not get covered in 2016.
Now if you stick with this company, and they don’t offer your drug(s), your doctor can write a letter explaining why you need that specific medications. But that doesn’t always work.
If you want to get the most of your Medicare Part D plan, begin the research now and make sure that the plan you pay for delivers what you need.
The Medicare.gov website offers an extremely useful tool. Follow the prompts and you can find out which companies offer the medication(s) that you need and then compare which offers the lowest monthly premium, copay and the overall best deal.
The steps on the website may seem daunting at first. But if you go through the instructions, or prompts, slowly,you can get every bit of accurate information that you need.
If it all seems too confusing for you to sort out, check with one of the Medicare advocacy groups like Medicare Rights Center. Real people answer the phone and work hard to get the information that you need.