Medicare Must-Do Before the Holidays

Insurance, Medicare

November 14, 2019

If you or someone you love is enrolled in Original Medicare and has a Prescription Drug (Part D) supplemental plan, I want you to start shopping for the best plan right now, before you get swept up and busy in your holiday planning.

Through December 7th, everyone enrolled in Medicare is allowed to shop around and change their supplemental plans for 2020. This includes the broad Medigap policies, and the separate Part D policies that help pay for prescription drug costs.

Most people don’t bother to review their current plan, and just stick with the same-old, same-old. That can be a very costly mistake.

There is no standard drug price that all Medicare Part D plans are required to offer customers. In other words, there could be three Part D plans offered in your region, and all three could have different prices for the same drug.

A recent analysis by the Senior Citizens League found that within a single zip code there were often glaring price differences for the same drugs, with the only difference being the patient’s Medicare Part D plan. Sovaldi, a drug used to treat Hepatitis C, cost $5,600 in co-insurance for the year in one plan, but cost its full price of $100,800 in another because the medication wasn’t covered at all. For Advair Diskus, a medication for pulmonary disease, the low cost was $38 per month and the high cost was $626.

Now you understand why I want you to review your plan’s details for 2020.

Don’t assume that because your medication was affordable this year, or the last five years for that matter, it will continue to be affordable next year. Plans change their coverages every year. At a minimum, you should check that the 2020 price for drugs you currently take will remain affordable. I’d also encourage you to go one step further and do some comparison shopping with other plan options, too.

You can use Medicare’s plan comparison tool. (Or ask your kid or grandkid to dive in with you.) Or you can make an appointment for comparison-shopping assistance through your State Health Insurance Assistance Program.

Investing an hour or two of your time can save you thousands of dollars. I hope you make the time right now, if you haven’t done so already, and review your options before the Medicare Open Enrollment Period closes on December 7th. Then you can truly relax and enjoy the holidays knowing you are covered.

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