Compare, choose your Part D drug plan
This is the ideal time for all people on Medicare to consider whether they have the best prescription drug coverage available. Other times to enroll in Part D are when you are first eligible for Medicare and you join during your Initial Enrollment Period (the seven months around your birthday month) and during the Special Enrollment Period, such as if you’ve lost creditable prescription drug coverage from an employer or union, you’ve moved from your service area, you moved in or out or live in a long term care facility.
Here is a chart of Alaska Part D plans (scroll to page 2): http://dhss.alaska.gov/dsds/Documents/Medicare/Medicare-AlaskaOptions2017.pdf
What is the “best plan?” The plan that:
• covers your individualized prescription needs on the plan’s formulary (list of covered medications);
• works with your pharmacy;
• gives you retail or mail order service as you prefer;
• has a pricing structure that works for you. (low premiums but high deductible, high premium but no deductible or something in-between)
All Part D plans have a fixed monthly premium. Medicare beneficiaries may pay a deductible and pay a co-payment cost at the pharmacy or to the plan if you use their mail-order service.
Some people with very expensive medications may hit the Coverage Gap (donut hole) and have to cover the costs of their medications for a period of time before satisfying the gap and entering the catastrophic coverage period by paying a low rate for the remainder of the year.
Do you qualify for Extra Help?
You qualify automatically if you are on Medicaid, SSI or the Medicare Savings Program. If not, see if you may meet the income and asset levels below:
If you are single and your monthly gross income is less than $1,875 and you have no more than $13,640 in assets (don’t count the value of your own home or car) then you may qualify for Extra Help.
If you are married and your monthly gross income as a couple is less than $2,523 and you have no more than $27,250 in assets (not counting your own home or car) then you may qualify for Extra Help.
You can use http://www.medicare.gov or check with the plan you are in to be assured that your medications will be covered next year. If you have a Part D Card (it will say “MedicareRX”) the customer service number is the best way to reach the company or use their website. Since your medication needs may vary each year and the plan’s pricing can change and their formulary can change you’ll want to be sure to compare what’s available in 2017 with what you currently have in 2016.