If you are eligible for Medicare Part D (Drug Plans), you should be aware that 1) open enrollment starts tomorrow, October 15th and 2) you can now research Medicare Part D plans on our site MedicareDrugPlans.com. On the site you find out which plans are rated best (or worst) by people enrolled in them. You’ll also get the 2011 pricing information for every plan in each U.S. state and territory. The information is completely objective – we are not affiliated with any plan.
If you are already enrolled in a Part D plan, MedicareDrugPlans.com allows you to rate and review your current plan, so others can learn from you.
To actually sign up for a plan, we recommend using the government’s website, Medicare.gov – at which you can best determine which plan covers all the prescription drugs you take. Comparing costs and features can be crucial to your health and your finances. Annual deductible, monthly premium and drug coverage (especially in the “doughnut hole”) are important to consider when choosing or changing your prescription plan.
This year the average premium nationally is $55, actual $1 lower than last year! The standard deductible, on the other hand, increased from $310 to $320. Less than ten plans offer coverage through the doughnut hole. However, under the new health care law, brand name drugs are now 50% off through this coverage gap period.
As open enrollment begins, Medicare enrollees interested in a drug plan are urged to research carefully. Whatever plan you choose will go into effect starting January 1st, 2011 and last for one full year – so get it right! Go to www.MedicareDrugPlans.com now.
New research shows that the Medicare drug plan “doughnut hole” seriously endangers not only the pocketbook, but also the health of our nation’s seniors and other Medicare enrollees. Two separate studies released this month show that patients who reach the coverage gap are more likely to stop taking their medication than they are to switch to a cheaper drug: the Public Library of Science published Changes in Drug Utilization During a Gap in Insurance Coverage: An Examination of the Medicare Part D Coverage Gap, and the Kaiser Family Foundation Program on Medicare Policy published Understanding the Effects of the Medicare Part D Coverage Gap in 2008 and 2009.
The putative reason for the coverage gap is that the threshold will teach consumers to be aware of drug costs. Jennifer Polinski, ScD, MPH, the author of PLoS study says, “there is an expectation that people will seek less expensive drug options when they enter the donut hole.” However, these studies reveal that this is clearly not the case. Research from 2006 and 2007 shows that beneficiaries were 40% less likely to switch a drug if they did not receive financial assistance, as opposed to those beneficiaries who did. Likewise, the Kaiser study reveals that about 3.4 million, or 12%, of Part D enrollees who reached the gap in 2008 and 2009 discontinued their medication. (more…)
In the State of the Union speech last night, President Obama highlighted prescription savings benefits in his otherwise brief coverage of new healthcare reform. As we’ve previously reported, and President Obama was clear to state, those prescription savings will go mostly to our nation’s seniors who are enrolled in Medicare. Beginning last September, many of America’s seniors received $250 rebate checks for prescription drug costs, a small step toward affordable healthcare. Better yet, starting this year, the coverage gap will narrow, with enrollees receiving a 50% discount on brand name drugs, and by 2020, a 75% discount. While the “doughnut hole” will not fully be closed, the savings will mean that far fewer Medicare enrollees will face exorbitant brand name drug prices out of pocket. (more…)
Many Medicare enrollees shopping for drug plans this open enrollment season may be lured in by the offers with the lowest premiums, when in fact these plans can make for poor choices. What’s most important when choosing a Part D plan is that the drugs you need are covered; and if the plan doesn’t cover your meds, then plain and simple, it is not a good option for you. To find out which plans include the drugs you take, you can use the government’s website, found here: Medicare Plan Finder.
Blindly choosing the plan with the lowest monthly premium means you’re more likely to neglect researching drug coverage and other crucial factors about your Part D drug plan. For instance, if your plan is linked with a preferred drugstore, location could be a problem. This worry is highlighted in a recent AP article, as the Humana/Wal-Mart plan with the lowest premium on the whole Medicare list is causing trouble for some. While the competitive premium prices from Humana and other Part D providers are drawing attention as factors in picking a plan, accessibility, co-pays, deductible and coverage in the doughnut hole must be considered in addition to the most critical factor – the drugs covered on a plan’s formulary. (more…)