Nov. 15 to Dec. 31 each year is the open enrollment period for Medicare’s Part D prescription drug plans. Because these drug plans can change from one year to the next, it is important for seniors to comparison-shop annually for the best deal and the best coverage for their own personal prescription needs, according to LSU AgCenter family economist Dr. Gloria Nye.
First, make a list of the names of the drugs you currently take and note the dosages, Nye advises. With this information, go online to the Medicare Prescription Drug Finder tool at www.medicare.gov/mpdpf. Click on “Find and Compare Plans” and enter the requested information. You will get a cost estimate for each plan available in the area where you live. You will also get a customer service satisfaction rating for each of the plans.
Before you switch plans, however, Nye says to check the following:
– Be sure the pharmacy you use is part of the plan’s network.
– See if the plan requires you to try cheaper drugs first.
– Find out if the plan covers drugs in the coverage gap (called the “doughnut hole,” in which enrollees pay full price).
– Determine the total cost because low-premium plans may have higher co-pays for prescriptions.
If you do not have access to the Internet you may call Medicare at (800) 633-4227 for a comparison. The Medicare Rights Center also has counselors to help you at (800) 333-4114. Or you may call your local council on aging or area agency on aging. To find an agency on aging near you, call (800) 677-1116.
Individuals with income of less than $15,600 and married couples with income of less than $21,000 may be eligible for extra help to pay for Medicare drug coverage. Call Social Security at (800) 772-1213 for more information.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture