(BPT) – Many people are surprised to find out that Original Medicare doesn't cover prescription drugs. For help with the cost of your medications, you can choose a standalone Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription coverage, but navigating your options can be complicated.
With Medicare Open Enrollment running from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 -- the annual window when you can make changes to your Medicare coverage -- now is a good time to learn about how to pick a plan that can best suit your needs.
Kent Monical, senior vice president for Part D at UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, recommends you consider these three things when choosing a plan.
1. Your drugs
Prescription drug plans can vary significantly. Each Part D plan has a list of drugs, called a formulary, which shows the drugs it covers.
"When considering a Part D plan, be sure your medications are covered," Monical said. "Even if you don't expect to change plans, it's important to make sure your drugs will still be covered next year, as plans can change from year to year."
2. Your pharmacy
Most Part D plans have preferred pharmacy networks. People can typically get their drugs for a lower copay when they visit preferred pharmacies.
"Make sure the plan offers access to pharmacies that are convenient for you," Monical said. "Some plans also have mail-order pharmacy benefits, and you can get prescriptions delivered to your home for a lower cost than purchasing from a retail location."
3. Your total costs
"A low monthly premium plan doesn't necessarily mean it will be the lowest-cost plan," said Monical. "You should also understand the other out-of-pocket costs, including the annual deductible and drug copays."
Plans sort drugs into several tiers, with generic or lower-tier drugs generally costing less than drugs on higher tiers. Talk to your doctor about whether a lower-tier drug might be suitable for you, which could help you save money.
The bottom line
Medicare Open Enrollment is a great time to make sure you have the right prescription drug coverage for your health and budget needs. Monical concludes, "Exploring your Part D options now could help you save money in 2018."
For more helpful open enrollment information, visit UHCOpenEnrollment.com.
* Uploaded by crisbrines on Jan 19, 2009
The three most important things to consider when choosing a Medicare Supplement are Coverage, Cost and Convenience. Lets talk about coverage.
Insurance companies can only sell you a standardized Medicare supplement plan. This means every insurance company offers the same exact benefits.
Medicare Standardized plans A through L, in this slide you can see what benefits are offered by each plan. Medicare told the insurance companies they can offer every plan, no plans, or some plans, but they can not change the plans.
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Convenience. When you purchase a Medicare Supplement plan, you can see any doctor or hospital in America. Some folks have signed up for Medicare Advantage plans, these plans can be cheaper, but you may be forced to see doctors and hospitals in their network, which means you may also need to get a referral to see a specialist. Tip from Medicare Supplement Shop dot com. While Medicare Advantage Plans are great for some people, most of our clients prefer Medicare Supplements.
Dallas L Alford IV, CPA is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the state of North Carolina and owner of Atlantic Financial Consulting, a consulting firm that provides comprehensive medical billing services, practice management consulting, coding audits, Medicare compliance, Medicare RAC support and other general medical practice consulting services.
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