If your medical care includes the need for prescription drugs, you are well aware of the financial burden the cost of those drugs can create, especially if you are on a limited income. Because of the high cost of these medications, many Medicare beneficiaries have chosen to supplement their health care coverage with prescription drug plans.
Some beneficiaries have chosen to add a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) to their Original Medicare coverage, while others have chosen to receive their Medicare coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage. Regardless of which type of plan you currently have, you should have already received your updated 2012 benefit information. Taking the time to review these documents may make a big difference in your prescription drug costs next year.
If your current plan continues to offer the prescription medications you need at the costs that fit your budget, you may decide that your current coverage will continue to serve your needs. Unfortunately, you may find that your prescription medications have increased in cost. For instance, a medication that was previously designated as a Tier 1 drug on your plan’s formulary might have moved to Tier 2, costing you more throughout the next year. If this is the case, it might be time to take advantage of Medicare’s Annual Election Period to compare plans.
Medicare’s Annual Election Period, from October 15 through December 7, is the time of the year during which you can make changes to your current health care coverage, including any changes to your prescription drug coverage. You can compare Medicare Advantage Plans that include prescription drug coverage, (MA-PDs), and you can compare stand-alone Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs).
As you compare these plans, make sure you check each plan’s specific formulary if there are specific medications you require. Some formularies may vary in the medications they cover or the cost for those drugs. Even though Medicare requires that all plans cover certain prescription drugs, plans may offer them for a variety of costs. It is in your best interest to be as specific as possible when you compare plans. Have the names and dosages of the prescriptions drugs you currently depend on handy when you compare plans. This will help you find the best plan for your individual needs. It also helps to know what you have paid for these drugs in this past year, so you will be able to identify a better option, if one exists. You may find that your current plan is the best one for your needs, and in that case, your coverage can continue. Comparing plans and choices will provide you with the assurance that you are receiving the health care coverage that best fits your needs.