Senior savvy: how to find a better prescription drug plan

Dear wise elder,
Is It Important To Compare Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans Each Year? My pharmacist highly recommends it, but it’s so complicated sorting through all these different plans. Is there an easier way to shop and compare Medicare drug plans?
Lazy beneficiary

Dear beneficiary,

Since Medicare prescription drug plans can change their costs and benefits from year to year, it is always a good idea to compare Part D plans each year during enrollment season. open (from October 15 to December 7).

Even if you are happy with your current coverage, there may be other plans that you are not aware of that offer better coverage at a lower cost. You never know until you watch. Here are some tips to help you shop and compare Medicare drug plans.

Online health insurance

If you have access to the Internet and are comfortable with a computer, you can easily search and compare all Medicare drug plans in your area, and purchase a new plan online if you want, and it doesn’t. takes a few minutes.

Simply go to the Medicare Plan Finder at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan, and choose the type of coverage you are looking for, enter your zip code, financial aid (if you receive any), select the medications you take and their dosages, and choose the pharmacies you use. The Plan Finder does the math to find the plan in your area that covers your lowest cost medications.

This tool also provides a five-star rating system that rates each plan based on past customer service records and suggests generics or older brand name drugs that may lower your costs.

When comparing drug plans, look at the estimated drug costs plus the cost of premiums which indicate how much you can expect to pay over a year in total reimbursable expenses.

Also make sure that the plan you are considering covers any medications you are taking without restriction. Today, most drug plans classify the drugs they cover into price brackets. A drug placed in a higher tier may require you to obtain prior authorization or to try another drug before you can use it.

Any changes to coverage will take effect on January 1, 2022. If you do not take any action during open enrollment, your current coverage will continue into the next year.

Need help?

If you need help choosing a new plan, you can call Medicare at (800) 633-4227 and they can help you over the phone. Or contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides free advice on health insurance. They also run seminars during the open registration period at various locations in each state. To find a local SHIP advisor, see ShiptaCenter.org or call (877) 839-2675.

Financial aid

If you have a lower income and are having trouble paying for your medications, you may be eligible for Medicare’s “Extra Help” program. This is a federal grant for low-income people that helps pay for Part D premiums, deductibles, and co-payments.

To be eligible, your income must be less than $ 19,320 or $ 26,130 for married couples living together, and your assets (not including your house, personal effects, vehicles, life insurance policies or expenses). funeral) must be less than $ 14,790 or $ 29,520 for married couples. For more information or to apply, call Social Security at (800) 772-1213 or visit SSA.gov/extrahelp.

Send your questions to seniors to: Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is an NBC contributor Today show and author of “The wise elder” delivered.

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