Find the Medicare drug plan that is best for you

The Medicare 2015 Annual enrollment period is October 15 through December 7, 2014. This is the time when anyone who has Medicare can enroll in Prescription Drug coverage, also known as Medicare Part D. This link has a chart with information about the prescription drug plans on offer this year:

Some facts about these plans:

The plan that has the lowest monthly premium is $15.60. The most expensive plan is $135.20. You will want to enroll in the plan that is best for you depending upon your specific medication needs. If you pick one out randomly, you may pay more money than needed and you may not have coverage for your medications.

Your very best plan is the plan that covers your individual medication needs, will work with your retail pharmacy (if you do not use a mail-order pharmacy) and has a pricing structure that works for you. All Part D plans have a monthly premium, the amount you pay whether you buy medications or not. It is a fixed amount that can be deducted from your Social Security benefit or you can choose to get a bill in the mail if that’s how you prefer to pay.

Many but not all plans have an annual deductible. That is the amount of money you pay before you get the benefit of the insurance. And then there is the co-payment amount or your cost for the medication that you are responsible to pay, which is typically around 25 percent of the full cost of the medication.

There are varying monthly premiums and co-payments for each medication and a formulary, which is a listing of which drugs are covered by the plan that year.

Since your medications may change each year, your financial situation may vary from year to year, and the plan’s covered medications (formulary) may change each year, it is important to compare plans each year. Alaska’s Medicare Information Office helps you do this as well as many people in agencies that help seniors and people with disabilities.

Thousands of Alaskans qualify for “Extra Help” each year and many others qualify for Medicaid. If you qualify for either “Extra Help” or Medicaid then you can switch plans any time of the year as well as during the October 15 through Dec. 7 annual enrollment period. In order to have no monthly premium cost, people on “Extra Help” or Medicaid will need to enroll in one of the plans with “YES” in the third column on the chart on page 5. Before selecting one of the “YES” plans, be sure your plan covers your medications and works with your pharmacy. We are here to assist you in doing that if you would like assistance.

Not every Alaskan on Medicare needs to have prescription insurance through Medicare. If you have AlaskaCare, federal retiree health insurance or other retiree health coverage that includes creditable prescription drug coverage, or you utilize the VA exclusively, you may not need Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

If you think you need assistance with prescription coverage, please get your red, white and blue Medicare card out, a list of your prescription medications and call the Alaska Medicare Information Office at 800-478-6065 or (907) 269-3680.