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Consider Picking a New Medicare Part D Plan Before December 7

Medicare Part D, Prescription Drug Plans, PDP

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

The details, options and deadlines surrounding Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) still confuse many people. Medicare Part D, also called the Medicare prescription drug benefit, is a federal program to subsidize the costs of prescription drugs for Medicare. It was enacted as part of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) and went into effect on January 1, 2006.

If you're like some Medicare beneficiaries out there, you may plan to keep your current PDP simply so you don't have to worry about the six-week annual election period. However, as many have discovered this could mean some of your drugs that were covered this year will not be covered next year. You might feel overwhelmed with all the information being fired at you in the media, but there is some good news!

Annual Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D,which runs each year from October 15 to December 7, gives Medicare recipients the opportunity to review existing Prescription Drug Plans and change to a different plan for 2014 if necessary.

Medicare is a confusing topic for most people, but there is help available. The State Health Insurance Counseling Program (SHIC) offers free help with Medicare Part D questions. A trained counselor, who works through the local sponsoring organization, NDSU Extension Service, can help answer your questions. SHIC counselors have no connection with any insurance company or product. Here's why you should consider picking a new Medicare Part D Plan for 2014.

*Your medication needs could change throughout your retirement. If you are now using new medications or think you might in the coming year, you should consider evaluating which plan will cover you best going forward. Plans can and do change which medications they will cover each year and how much participants are charged for each medication. Just because your medications were covered with a given copay in 2013 doesn't mean they will continue to be covered at the same level or at all in 2014.

* The average premium is expected to increase by 5 percent from $38.14 in 2013 to $39.90 in 2014 if retirees stay in their current Part D plan. Many beneficiaries (44 percent) will pay between $1 and $10 more if they remain in their current plan in 2014, and 14 percent will experience a monthly increase of more than $10. Avoiding high premiums is the most common reason retirees select new prescription drug plans. Nearly half (46 percent) of enrollees who switched plans paid at least 5 percent less in premium costs the following year, compared to 8 percent of those who did not switch plans.

Items needed for the review: Medicare cards, correspondence from Medicare and all other insurance and prescription cards along with all prescription medicine bottles. Medicare recipients are asked to call for an appointment to ensure a timely visit.

If you have any questions or concerns about your Medicare options, call 873-5195.

Source: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/10/28/choose-new-medicare-part-d-plan-2014/ 

Photo above is by Stock Monkeys.com.

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