The enrollment season for Medicare prescription drug Part D and Medicare Advantage Part C runs from October 15th through December 7th each year. While you may fall into the habit of renewing your same plan each fall, reevaluating coverage annually can make the difference of hundreds of dollars in your pocketbook.
Here’s a quick guide as to why you should look at all your Medicare options, as well as tips and tricks to get started.
Why You Should Shop Around for Medicare Part D
The biggest surprise may be that you could face double-digit premium increases if you stay with your current plan. For those on a budget, annual increases can eat into your other expenses and make it harder to pad your emergency fund.
So start with your statement, review the annual notice of change that you should have received in September. This will explain any basic benefit changes for 2023.
Next, it’s time to dig deeper. If you are currently taking any prescription drugs, look for statements concerning insurance and cheaper alternatives. While off-brand prescriptions can cut costs, they could also delay prescription drug fulfillment. Pay attention to how much the plan charges for the exact drugs you need, including name-brand and generic.
Preferred delivery networks
Many plans are moving to a “preferred delivery network”. That means you must agree to receive your drugs through a specific retail or online pharmacy network.
If your plan uses a preferred delivery network, be sure to check and make sure one of those pharmacies is in a convenient location for you. A $10 cheaper prescription per month may not be worth it if you have to drive across town to refill it a dozen times per year.
For those of you still working, be aware of the high income surcharges on Medicare. However, there is a two year lag in income reporting, so your 2023 surcharges are based on your 2021 tax returns.
The best online tool to calculate costs – including surcharges – is the Medicare Plan Finder on the Medicare website. Fill in your medicare number and drugs you are using to find the right plan. And if you prefer to talk to someone on the phone, there is the Medicare Rights Center offering free counseling by phone at 1-800-333-4114.
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