It’s Medicare Open Enrollment time (October 15 - December 7)!  Maybe it’s because many of us are nearing Medicare age,  that I’m receiving many calls on how to select a Part D Drug Plan.  I thought I’d lay out a step-by-step guide on how to go about it.

No doubt about it, finding a drug plan can be a daunting experience.  In fact, Jane Gross, creator of the New Old Age Blog in the New York Times, and a caregiver to her own mother for many years, wrote about selecting her own Part D Plan in a post aptly titled “D is for Dazed.”  Signing up for Part A and Part B was, she said, “a snap,” but Part D was another story.

This process will take about 10 minutes. Before you start make sure you have a detailed list of all prescribed drugs that you take, or have the vial(s) laid out in front of you.

Here's what you do:

  • Go to www.medicare.gov
  • Click on Drug Coverage, Part D
  • Go to Find Health and Drug plans
  • Scroll down to “General Search” and enter your zipcode of residence
  • Check “I don’t know” to both questions concerning your coverage and click “Go To Plan Results”
  • You are now ready to enter your prescribed drugs in detail.  You can follow the prompts for this. When you’re done you can save it and you’ll receive an ID number that you can use at a later time to retrieve your information. [This is particularly helpful if you’re helping a parent with this]
  • When you’ve completed your drug list, it will give you a list of pharmacies that you can choose from.  I recommend that you choose two so you can compare the prices not only between drug plans, but between the different pharmacies as well.
  • Click on Continue to Plan Results
  •  If you’re planning to have a Medicare Supplement plan, click on Plans with Original Medicare. If you have an Advantage Plan (HMO) then you will choose one of the other two options.
  • You can now see the different plans available to you. If you click on the actual plan you will be able to see detailed information.

Few pieces of advice:

  • MAKE SURE THE PLAN HAS ALL OF YOUR PRESCRIBED DRUGS.  If you take many drugs, it’s possible that they may not all be covered. Make sure your most expensive one is, or choose the plan that will result in the lowest amount of out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Look at the annual costs, not just the monthly premiums.
  • And finally, things change. Your medication needs and the drug plan may change from year –to- year.  It’s very important that you review your individual information every year.

Additional Resources

Tags:Aging Aging Parents Caregiving Medicare

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Nancy Stein

Nancy Stein is the founder of Seniority Matters and lead author of the Seniority Matters Blog. This is where you can turn to read about new service providers, enhancements to the website, and updates and commentaries on issues and events that are of interest to the South Florida senior communities. Of course, no blog is complete without feedback from readers, so don't be shy! Leave a comment and let us know what you think

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