It’s time to review your Medicare coverage

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It’s time to review your Medicare coverage

by Janet Ikenberry

“Fall has arrived, and you know what that means: cooler temperatures, beautiful leaves, football games and – for folks 65 and older — the annual Medicare open enrollment period.”

“Like the changing foliage, you don’t want to miss the chance to review your Medicare prescription drug coverage. From October 15 to December 7 each year, Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to switch to a different Medicare prescription drug plan.”

“This is a crucial step in managing your prescription costs. You may be perfectly content with your current plan, but if you don’t do your homework, you could be unpleasantly surprised when you pick up medications after January 1. Prescription drug plans can change drastically from year to year. Formularies – another word for the lists of drugs that insurance plans cover — are different. Just because your medication is available and affordable on your current plan this year does not mean it will be next year…enter your information into the Plan Finder Tool on the website. The Plan Finder allows you to make a side-by-side comparison of the best and most affordable options based on your medications and pharmacy preference.”

“Because the website and the Plan Finder Tool are user-friendly and designed so Medicare beneficiaries can easily access important information, you might be able to do this yourself…We encourage everyone with a Medicare prescription drug plan to review coverage during the annual open enrollment period. Even if you don’t take any medications, you might find a plan with a lower monthly premium. For people who are on Medicare but have never had a Medicare prescription drug plan, this enrollment period also gives you the opportunity to sign up.”

“A penalty will be assessed and added to your monthly premium for signing up after you’re first eligible, so don’t wait. According to the “Medicare & You” handbook, that penalty “is calculated by multiplying 1 percent of the ‘national base beneficiary premium’ ($35.02 in 2018) by the number of full, uncovered months that you were eligible but didn’t join a Medicare drug plan and went without other creditable prescription drug coverage.” This penalty has to be paid every month for the rest of your life.”


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