The next time you can switch your Medicare prescription drug plan will be during the annual enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2013. If you are not happy with your current monthly costs, covered medications, and out-of-pocket costs you will be able to change during this window at the end of the year.
1) Compare Drug Coverage
While many people focus on the Part D monthly cost (called premiums), the first thing you want to review is the plan’s covered drug list. Each plan has a list of covered medications called the formulary and each list can vary dramatically from plan to plan. The companies can change the formulary list during the year so it is important to make sure the drugs you are currently taking are still covered under your existing plan and compare it to new plans.
2) Compare Monthly Costs
The average 2013 monthly cost for Rx coverage is $30 in 2013 .If you are paying significantly more than this you will want to shop around in October. New plans often are priced less expensive that older popular plans so make sure you look into some of the brand new plans that are offered each year. For example, the AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus was introduced this year with premiums averaging $15 a month. It’s too early to know what new plans are out for 2014 but its worth looking into. While your monthly cost is very important, see point 3 below to learn why going with the cheapest plan isn’t always the best idea.
3) Compare Deductibles
If you have narrowed down a few plans that cover the drugs you are currently taking, you will also want to examine deductible cost. Each Medicare Part D plan is allowed to charge deductibles of up to $325 in 2013 (we will update 2014 numbers when they are available). Many Part D plans waive or reduce this deductible so compare what your current plan is charging with the new plans available. Plans that remove this deductible will often cost more each month so make sure you do the math and see if a no deductible plan is worth paying a little more for. For example, you may want to consider a plan that is even $25 more each month if it will save you from paying the deductible.
4) Compare Copayments
Same plans also reduce the amount of copayments you may have to pay. Take a look to see how the plans you like cover copays and if one plan offers a better deal than the others.
With the information above you should be in great shape to switch Part D plans. Check out our main site for our complete page on Part D prescription coverage. If you need additional assistance on understanding this or any other part of Medicare, please contact us at the number above.