Ask Kim


How to Compare Medicare Part D Plans

Kimberly Lankford

Shop around to make sure you're getting the best prescription-drug coverage.



I already have a Medicare Part D plan. Do I need to fill out any forms or sign anything before open enrollment is over on December 7?

SEE ALSO: Navigating Medicare Special Report

No. If you don’t do anything during the open-enrollment period, you’ll continue to be covered by your current Part D plan. But it’s a good idea to check out your options, even if you’re happy with your current coverage. Insurers have been boosting premiums, increasing co-payments, changing drugs to different pricing tiers (a drug that had been in the preferred category may now be nonpreferred and subject to a higher co-payment) and imposing new rules requiring you to get preauthorization for coverage of certain drugs. In a recent trend, insurers are creating a big pricing difference between in-network and out-of-network pharmacies.

By not switching plans, you could be paying more than you have to. A study by eHealthInsurance’s Plan Prescriber found that 92% of Medicare beneficiaries are not currently enrolled in the Part D or Medicare Advantage plan with the lowest total out-of-pocket costs available to them. If they switched to the plan with the lowest costs for their medications, they could save an average of $668 for Part D coverage or $612 for Medicare Advantage plans.

Although you have until December 7 to pick your plan for 2013, be sure to leave yourself time for shopping. Last year, more than 40% of customers waited until after Thanksgiving to review their plan options, says Ross Blair, CEO of PlanPrescriber.com. If you haven’t made your choice yet, check out the following resources during this final week of open enrollment.

Advertisement

Start by checking the out-of-pocket costs for the Part D or Medicare Advantage (Medicare Health Plans) options in your area by using the Medicare Plan Finder. See The Best Resource for Comparing Medicare Plans for a guide to using the Plan Finder and other resources to help you pick a plan. If you’d like personalized assistance, you can contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (get local contact information at www.shiptalk.org ShipTalk.org or by calling 800-633-4227).

For more information about what to look for during the open-enrollment period this year, see Sift Through Your Medicare Choices and What to Know About 2012 Medicare Open Enrollment.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.



Editor's Picks From Kiplinger


You can get valuable updates like Ask Kim from Kiplinger sent directly to your e-mail. Simply enter your e-mail address and click "sign up."

More Sponsored Links


DISCUSS

Permission to post your comment is assumed when you submit it. The name you provide will be used to identify your post, and NOT your e-mail address. We reserve the right to excerpt or edit any posted comments for clarity, appropriateness, civility, and relevance to the topic.
View our full privacy policy


Advertisement

Market Update

Advertisement

Featured Videos From Kiplinger