Medicare Part D Explanation
Part D of Medicare covers prescription drugs only. In order to have coverage, you must elect a stand-alone plan, along with Original Medicare or enroll into a Medicare Advantage plan that also includes prescription drug coverage (MA-PD).
Part D is offered by private insurers only (like United Health Care or Blue Cross and Blue Shield) that contract with Medicare to offer Part D. There is no “Government Option” Part D benefit like there are with A and B. Each Part D plan is offered by a private insurance company.
There are a few moving “parts” to Part D. They are:
- Monthly premium – in Missouri, monthly Part D premiums range from $17 – $149.20 for 2017. In Virginia & Maryland, the monthly premiums range from $15 – $45.
- Deductible amount – the amount you have to pay before your coverage kicks in.
- Copay – the amount you pay at a pharmacy after you meet your deductible and will vary from plan to plan and from drug to drug. Drug copays range from $2 for a generic up to $100 for a brand name.
- Coverage Gap – AKA the “Donut Hole”.
- Formulary – each company has a different list of drugs they cover. This is crucial as the drugs you currently take may or may not be covered by different plans.
- Preferred Pharmacy – while this isn’t as big of an issue, it is still something to consider. Most pharmacies will take any Part D plan from any company but should still be confirmed.
Choosing a Part D Plan
Since each company charges a different monthly premium, covers different drugs and has different copays, what is the best way to choose a plan? We think that Medicare.gov’s Prescription Plan Finder is the best place to start. This unbiased source allows you to plug in your zip code and current prescriptions to find which plan will be your TOTAL LOWEST COST (taking into consideration ALL factors, not just price.)
While this is a great place to start, we suggest giving us a call before signing up as there are a few other things to be aware of.
Part D Coverage Rules
Each Part D company has 3 different coverage rules that can cause headaches (note: the headaches caused may cause additional prescription drug usage!) when getting certain prescriptions covered:
When evaluating your Part D options, you should consider the restrictions of your medicine along with the different factors mentioned above. The lowest priced plan may not cover your prescriptions or require you to change your drugs. This ultimately can lead to higher prices in the long run along with the added stress and frustration of having to visit your doctor to get your prescriptions switched over.
Part D Enrollment
Medicare Part D companies renew their contracts with Medicare annually. This means that each year, the moving “parts” can move. You then have the opportunity to adjust your coverage accordingly. This can be done during the “Annual Enrollment Period” or AEP from 10/15 to 12/7 of each year. Your change begins 1/1 of the following year.
We can help! Having advised clients on Part D since its inception, we are able to use all available resources to help pick the plan that fits your prescriptions and situation. Give us a call at 636-205-4205 for a free, no obligation phone consultation to help narrow down your choices.