There are two ways to switch your Medicare Part D drug plan in 2014. If you are not happy with your current monthly costs, covered medications, and out-of-pocket costs you’ll want to consider these two options for changing your plan.
The two ways to switch to a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan are:
Medicare Part D Open Enrollmen
Anyone can enroll in a Medicare drug plan during the open enrollment period: Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2014. This includes those that have a current drug plan, those who have Medicare Advantage with a drug plan attached and want to switch out of that plan, and those who have not enrolled during their initial period.
If you didn’t enroll in your initial Part D enrollment you are subject to a penalty.
Part D 5-Star Special Enrollment
To switch your plan during this 5-Star Special Enrollment which runs Dec 8- November 30, 2014, you must currently have a drug plan. If you are unhappy with your drug plan you can change to a different Medicare Part D plan with a 5-star rating. You will only be able to do this once per 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 2014 monthly cost for Rx coverage is $30. If you are paying significantly more than this you will want to shop around. New plans often are priced less expensive than 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. 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 the deductible cost. Each Medicare Part D plan is allowed to charge deductibles of up to $310 in 2014. 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. Therefore you’ll want to do the math and see if a no deductible plan is worth paying a little more for. For example, a plan that costs $25 more each month could actually save you money if there is not deductible attached.
4) Compare Copayments
Some plans also reduce the amount of copayments you may have to pay. You’ll want to compare copays for different drug tiers to see which plan is actually right for you.
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. For help deciding on the right plan please contact us at the number above.