For seniors turning 65 and looking to save money on their prescription drug coverages, understand the correct way to compare Medicare Part D plans is an important step in fulfilling that goal.
For this reason, I am going to show you the best ways to go about comparing Medicare Part D plans.
First, it’s important to know that the government has put together a website that is designed to make this comparison easy.
You can visit the Medicare Plan finder by clicking here.
But being that anything the government does can be confusing, I am going to take you through it step-by-step to shoe you how to use this tool.
Video Overview of Comparing Medicare Part D Plans
After you are at the plan finder website, you will be asked to put your zip code in.
The reason for this is that many companies that are in the Medicare business don’t do business in all areas of the country. Why is this the case?
It’s just a business decision. Each company can choose to do business in certain areas and not in others. So the first criteria when comparing Medicare Part D plans is for you to enter your zip code so the plan finder can only choose plans that are available for you.
Current Plan Information
The next step is for you to enter what your current plan is, such as…
- Original Medicare
- A Medicare Health Plan
- If you have Medicare coverage yet
- If you don’t know what your coverages are
- Do you get help from the state, Medicaid, SSI or Medicare Extra Help.
Next, you will insert the drugs that you need covered by the Medicare Part D plan you choose.
And here is one of the best parts about the plan finder. As you insert the names of the drugs you are taking…ie: Lipitor…the plan finder will point out cheaper, generic alternatives that will assist you in avoiding the Medicare Donut Hole.
But finish up inserting the medications that you are taking and we will move to the next step…
Now, based upon your zip code you will receive a series of recommendations of local pharmacies.
Just choose the most that is most convenient for you.
Prescription Drug Plan Choices
Now you get to the results pages. You need to click on “Prescription Drug Plans” [see the orange oval in the picture below] and then click on “Continue To Plan Results”
Now we need to interpret the results. You can see what your prescriptions would normally have cost you…in this example if you had just stuck with Original Medicare.
In this sample I was using from pretty standard medications too…Advair to alleviate COPD and Lipitor for lowering cholesterol. In fact, the Medicare Plan Finder recommended that I switch to using a generic alternative to Lipitor as it was far cheaper.
After I entered the plan information, I received a total of 29 plans that fit my basic criteria of:
- Available in my area
- Matched the drugs that I put in as the sample for this demonstration
To give you an idea of the savings that you can enjoy, I picked one of the more popular plans, the AARP Medicare RX Preferred, to give you an example of the type of savings you can experience.
So with this plan, instead of using just Original Medicare [see above] and paying $5,655 a year you would only be laying out $1,835.
That represents about a 70% savings off of your prescription drug costs.
The Medicare plan finder will also give you the monthly premium each plans calls for, the deductibles and co-payments you are responsible for and the plans overall Medicare rating, from 0 to 5 stars.
One note about ‘5 Star’ plans. If you have a 5-Star plan in your area you are eligible to switch into that plan at any time of year, whether or not it is the Medicare open enrollment period or not.
Now, the last thing you would want to know is…what is the best plan?
Well, there is no one answer for that. It is dependent upon your own situation, but by using the Medicare Plan finder you will put yourself in a position where you will Compare Medicare Part D Plans properly and make the best choice for you.
Another Area For Advice
Besides from the Medicare plan finder and asking your doctor,is there another way you can seek out advice? Possibly.
Have you thought of asking your pharmacist. While they may be prohibited to give this type of advice, your pharmacist might be in a position to know which plans work well with certain medications and also generic alternatives can work with those plans as well.
In any event, it does not hurt to ask. Any advice you can get is better than not having advice.