Comparing Part D plans is an essential part of any sound financial strategy. Part D plans can change each year, and most do change on a regular basis. The coverage changes, the premium changes, and some plans may choose to discontinue coverage altogether. Insurance is an ever-changing industry, and this is never more true than in the case of Part D plans. Because of that, it is absolutely critical that you re-evaluate your Part D plan on an annual, or at the very least, bi-annual basis.
The biggest things that you need to look for when you are evaluating and comparing your Part D plan to other options are the premium, deductible and co-pays/coverage. While one plan may have a lower premium, note whether the deductible is higher and/or whether the co-pays are larger. Often, plans will put forth an enticing lower premium but have the plan loaded with a large deductible and high medication co-pays. This is okay for someone in good health, but if your health changes or if you are on a lot of medications, this is not going to be something that will benefit you in the long run.
Towards the end of the year, usually in September or October, you will receive a packet from your current Part D plan regarding the coverage for the following year. If you have not received this by the end of October, we recommend contacting the plan to notify them of this and obtain this packet. This will be required in order to make a careful and effective evaluation of the plan options. The packet will contain a comparative chart, showing how the plan is changing from the current plan year into the next year. It should be relatively easy to understand if the premium, deductible, or co-pay structures are changing. Also, if your medications are moving to a new “tier”, this is something that you can find out from the packet, and it will be important to know as you evaluate the plans.
Each year, you have the opportunity to change plans during the annual election period. It is my recommendation that you carefully evaluate the plan options each year, as these plans change very frequently. If you wish to make a change, you simply apply for the new plan. You cannot be enrolled in two plans at one time, so when Medicare processes your enrollment into the new plan, they also disenroll you from your old plan. The process is seamless and easy to do. It can be done online with Medicare, by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or by contacting the new plan directly.
If you have any questions about this process, Part D plans in general or Medigap plan options, please contact us on our website or call us at 877.506.3378.
This concludes our five-part series on Part D plans. Hope you have found it to be enlightening and beneficial. Part D is the most confusing, and least enjoyable, part of Medicare for most people. However, it doesn’t have to be. With a little knowledge of the Part D system, how it works and how to easily compare plans, you can save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a year. And, that’s enjoyable for anyone!