Gloria Nye, Bollich, Patricia A., Braud, Emily
Comparison shop during Medicare Part D enrollment period
November 15 to December 31 each year is the open enrollment period for Medicare’s Part D prescription drug plans. Because these drug plans can change so much from one year to the next, it is important for seniors to comparison shop annually for the best deal and 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 available 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 drug plan 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 $16,245* and married couples with income of less than $21,855* may be eligible for extra help to pay for Medicare drug coverage. Call Social Security at 800-772-1213 for more information.
*NOTE: These amounts will be updated when the official 2010 numbers are released.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture