Time to review your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
October 1, 2023 | View PDF
From Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, I encourage you to review and, if needed, change your Prescription Drug Plan under Part D coverage. Changes you elect will become effective on Jan. 1. Certified Medicare counselors across Alaska can help you as part of the Medicare Information Office’s network of program Ambassadors, including through your local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). Give us a call, we would be glad to answer your questions, guide you through the process, and even complete the review of your prescription drug plan with you.
Now is the time to review your drug plan
Under Part D of Medicare, private insurance companies have established Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs). These plans meet the regulatory requirements of the national Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services along with complying with the State of Alaska’s rules overseen by the Dept. of Commerce and the Division of Insurance. These private insurance companies set up agreements with both drug manufacturers (the pharmaceutical companies) and distribution networks (the retail pharmacies). Under a tiered pricing system, the Prescription Drug Plans provide access to a list of prescription drugs, also known as their formulary.
Even if your current plan has been meeting all of your prescription needs, you may be able to obtain a new plan at a lower overall cost to you. For many reasons, these private insurance companies revise their offered plans annually. What has worked for you may not work for you next year. To review your options, you may go online to Medicare.gov, then find the link for Health and Drug Plans. Without needing to create an account, you may use this online tool to review the medication you currently are prescribed, by entering the prescription name, its dosage, and how often you take it. You can also compare costs through local retail pharmacies. And you may be able to save money by using mail order delivery of your medications.
You may change to the plan of your choice
Once you have reviewed your options, you may elect to change to a new plan. The goal when searching for a new plan which meets all of your requirements is to obtain the lowest overall cost to you. Each plan may contain specific rules regarding your prescriptions, so read these notations carefully.
The estimated annual cost is calculated by adding up the plan’s monthly premiums along with the cost-share of the prescriptions you anticipate obtaining during the year. While Prescription Drug Plans offer a variety of deductibles, premiums and cost-shares, pay attention to the total estimated cost rather than one individual factor. During the open enrollment period, Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, you may even make multiple changes – the last change you make prior to Dec. 7 is the one which will become effective on Jan. 1, 2024.
Remember, you may call for our help. We are happy to do the review and enrollment with you during the open enrollment period. For any Medicare related questions, please feel free to contact the State of Alaska Medicare Information Office at 800-478-6065 or 907-269-3680; our office is also known as the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP), and the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) program.
If you are part of an agency or organization that assists seniors with medical resources, consider networking with the Medicare Information Office. Call us to inquire about our new Ambassador program.
Sean McPhilamy is a volunteer and Certified Medicare Counselor for the Alaska Medicare Information Office.