We are right in the middle of the most important time of year - Medicare’s Annual Election Period! AEP is important for every single person on Medicare, regardless of what plans you’re currently enrolled in. One of the many things you can do during AEP is make a change to your Part D prescription drug plan. But how do you choose which Part D plan is right for you? Follow these four steps!
Gather all your prescriptions from your bathroom cabinet and make a list! Write down the name of your medication, the dosage, and how often you take each one. You’ll need this list to find out if your medications are covered under each of the Part D plans in Arizona.
That’s right; each individual plan has its own drug formulary, the list of medications it covers. This is different from one carrier to the next and even different within a carrier’s list of plans. For example, Company A may have three different plans, each with a unique formulary.
In addition, each formulary categorizes prescriptions into drug tiers. Drugs in lower tiers cost less than those in higher tiers. Find out which tier each of your medications falls into so you can get an idea of how much it will cost to refill those medications.
Part D plans have pharmacy networks. A pharmacy can be preferred, standard, or not in-network. Preferred pharmacies give you the best pricing, meaning the lowest out-of-pocket costs. Standard pharmacies work, too, but you’ll pay more to use one. Out-of-network pharmacies will not offer any coverage.
Try to choose a pharmacy that is preferred with your plan. If you have a pharmacy you love and aren’t willing to switch, you should look for plans that consider that pharmacy to be preferred. If there are no preferred pharmacies near you, be prepared to pay more for your medications.
Many Part D plans also offer mail-order prescriptions. Many times, the cost for mail orders will be less than if you visit a pharmacy in person. You’ll also often find that you can get a longer supply of your drugs if you order by mail.
Finally, compare the total cost for each plan. You’ll add the monthly premiums and cost-sharing amounts and get the total amount for the year. It’s never a good idea to choose a plan solely by the lowest premium, as that plan could have much higher cost-sharing amounts. Instead, take that total number and find out which plan costs the least for the entire year.
At this point, you’ll also be able to see a breakdown of your costs by month. Most plans use a standard deductible, which is $505 in 2023. If you are taking any prescriptions that are subject to the deductible, you may find that you pay more at the beginning of the year than you do once that deductible has been met.
In addition, a monthly breakdown will also estimate if you might find yourself in the donut hole or coverage gap. The Part D coverage gap occurs once you and your plan have spent a certain amount of medications. When you’re in the donut hole, you’ll pay more for your prescriptions. It’s always a good idea to understand your monthly costs so you can budget accordingly.
The last step is to enroll! This is the easiest part. All you’ll need to do is enter your personal information like name, address, and phone number, as well as your Medicare ID number. You will also need to choose how you’d like to pay your plan premiums. Plans allow you to have the premium deducted from your Social Security benefits or will allow you to receive a monthly bill. Some plans do offer automatic bank drafts, though you may have to set that up after the first of the year.
This all might sound pretty overwhelming, but it’s easier than you’d think. You can compare formularies, plans, and costs by using the plan finder at Medicare.gov. Or, you can talk to one of the experts at Local Medicare Specialists! Our team of Medicare agents understands the Part D plans in Arizona and can help walk you through the process of choosing a plan. We’ll make sure you’re on the most cost-effective plan and that you know exactly what to expect during your next pharmacy visit. Call today to speak with a local Medicare advisor near you!
Schedule a FREE Medicare consultation with an agent in your neighborhood.