| Mon, Aug 15, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

Finding a New Prescription Drug Plan: What You Need To Know

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

RLTV Making Medicare Work for YouIf you’re a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan member, it’s a good idea to know what to do if your medication needs change. This could happen because of a change in your finances, or because your drug plan changes its formulary (the list of drugs it covers). Or maybe your doctor prescribes a new medication that’s not on your plan’s formulary. Whatever the reason, there are ways to change your prescription drug coverage to suit your needs.

A little research can help you find a new plan that’s a good fit, but it’s important to be prepared to change plans during Medicare’s enrollment window. In 2011, the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) starts and ends four weeks earlier from October 15 to December 7. This is your opportunity to compare, add, drop or switch plans. If you miss the window, you might have to wait until the next year (though there are exceptions, so check with Medicare).

As you compare plans and decide whether a change is right for you, here are five questions to ask:

  1. Does your plan cover the specific medications you need?
  2. How do your plan’s prices compare with other plan’s prices? Don’t just look at the premium. Find out the deductible, coinsurance and copay costs. Each insurance provider sets its own rates.
  3. Do the insurance providers you’re interested in have partnerships with pharmacies or drug companies that allow you to get a deeper discount on your medications?
  4. Do you travel frequently? Some plans offer nationwide coverage, others don’t.
  5. Does your plan offer a mail order service? It could cost you less, and you could have your drugs sent straight to your home.

Find plans available in your area at medicare.gov/find-a-plan, then look up the ones you’re interested in on the company’s website. You can also contact your local Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP). To find your nearest office, call (800) 677-1116 or the Medicare helpline, or find your state’s contact list at medicare.gov/contacts, eldercare.gov, or shiptalk.org. You can also call the insurance companies that offer plans you’re interested in. You can get the phone numbers through Medicare or your state’s SHIP office.

For more information contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. You can also contact UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Made Clear to learn more at 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources:

Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage (medicare.gov)

Extra Help (A low income subsidy program to help pay for medications)

Understanding Medicare Enrollment Periods (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services)

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