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Choosing The Right Medicare Drug Plan

It pays to pore over your Medicare drug plan each year!

Recently, your Medicare prescription drug plan sent you a letter. Chances are, you did not read it-and this could be costing you money. This notice comes just before the 2017 annual plan enrollment period, which starts October 15 and will end December 7th. It is your signal that it is time to re-shop or shop for coverage.

Health insurance companies must send out notice of changes for the coming year to Part D prescription drug Part C Medicare Advantage plans. This notice, must be delivered to you by September 30th each year, lets you know whether your medication will be covered in the year ahead, and changes in co-pays and premiums.

Price Shopping

A study released last fall by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation however, found that on average, just 13% of enrollees voluntarily switched their drug plans over 4% enrollment periods. The switching rate is nearly identical for enrollees in Medicare Advantage plans, the all-in-one managed-care option offered to Medicare enrollees.

This is unfortunate, since plenty of people are leaving their money on the table. The Kaiser study found that 46% of plan switchers have saved at least 5% the following year, mainly on monthly premiums.

Medicare cost inflation has been moderate for several years and should remain so in 2015. The average Part D premium should drop from $39.88 in 2014 to $38.95 in 2015, according to Avalere Health, a consulting and research firm.

Premiums are not the only factor that should be consider. Fewer drug plans will have zero deductibles next, year, Avalere reports. It is also important to make sure the drugs you take are covered and under what circumstances they will be covered.

In many cases, the best deals are offered by plans using the preferred pharmacy networks, so make sure the pharmacy option is convenient for you, because drugs will be expensive if you use non-preferred delivery options.

Finally, pay attention to how your drug plans will be covered if you enter the “doughnut hole” this coverage gap will begin after your drug plan spent a certain amount for covered drugs. Most plans do not include gap coverage, and those that do charge higher premiums. But the size of the gap is being shrunk under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, and is scheduled to disappear in 2020. Next year this gap will start at $2,960 (up from $2,850 this year) and will end after you have spend $4,700 (up from $4,550 this year).

 

It pays to pore over your Medicare drug plan each year

 

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