By Michael Chamberlain, CFP, AIF
Learn more about Michael on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor
No one wants to pay more than necessary for health insurance or prescription drugs. But every year, many enrollees in Medicare Part D prescription coverage plans end up wasting thousands of dollars.
This occurs simply because they fail to review and evaluate the changes that are being made to their current plans for the coming year. Insurance companies may raise premiums, copays and deductibles or change which drugs are covered. The changes often increase the plan’s cost for seniors, but if they aren’t aware of the changes, they might not switch to a plan better suited for them.
Medicare’s annual election period starts October 15 and runs until December 7, so now’s the time to make sure you don’t make that mistake. Review changes to your plan today to ensure it’s still your best option for next year. If it isn’t, you can switch providers.
Follow these three steps to get the Medicare drug plan that’s best for you:
1. Gather all your medicine-related info
To evaluate plans, you will need the following information:
- A list of all drugs you take. For each, know the dosage and how many pills you need each month.
- Your Medicare number. Have your Medicare card handy since you will need the dates of enrollment on the card.
- Pharmacy preferences. Keep in mind that prices can vary by pharmacy, so be flexible if you can to save money.
- Delivery or pickup preferences — would you consider mail order, since it’s often cheaper?
2. Contact Medicare to learn about plans
Visit the Medicare website or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227). The website can be somewhat confusing with several different windows and multiple steps. Calling may be easier for many seniors.
In either case, you will be able to learn about dozens of plans and find out which one will result in the lowest overall cost for you for the next year, based on the drugs you take now, the premiums for the plan, and the copays and deductibles.
3. Contact the insurer offering your preferred plan
If you decide to switch to a new plan, call the insurer that offers it to sign up. Premiums can be deducted from your Social Security benefits (or, if you’re not receiving benefits, you will be billed). The plan will automatically start at the beginning of 2016, and your prior plan will terminate.
Remember: The deadline for changes is December 7, 2015.
Follow these steps, and you can feel confident that you have the best drug plan — that is, until you must review it again at the same time next year.
This article also appears on Nasdaq.
Image via iStock.