Open enrollment drawing near



October 2, 2018 - 10:47 AM

Medicare Part D (prescription) annual open enrollment is around the corner. This nationwide enrollment period runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. In Kansas, 10 companies provide Medicare Part D totaling 26 different plans to choose from in 2019. Monthly premiums range from $16.20 to $99.50 a month.  The deductible upper limit is $415, but ranges from $0-$415.
If you are a Medicare beneficiary enrolled in a Part D prescription plan, you may have already received your Annual Notice of Change for your plan in the mail. The notice will include information regarding any changes to your current plan such as monthly premium, deductible, and coverage of your medications. These notices may not include everything you need to know such as a change in medication formulary or change of in-network pharmacies. Carefully review them. If you do nothing, you will continue in your current plan.
Each year insurance companies providing Part D plans make adjustments regarding monthly premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance and copayments.  Often people are happy with their current plan and can afford the increases, but there may be an opportunity to save money. For many years, probably since 2006 when Part D plans started, Humana Walmart RX has been the lowest premium plan. It is great for those who do not take any prescription medications but are enrolled to have coverage and avoid a penalty in the future. Two new plans are being offered in 2019 with even lower premiums than Humana. The difference is $90, something beneficiaries may not know if they don’t evaluate all the plans each year.
Having a plan comparison completed will let you know what to expect financially for the upcoming year and make sure your 4 C’s are covered.
• Cost. How much have you spent in premiums, deductibles, and copayments this year? How will these amounts change next year?
• Coverage. Does your plan cover all of the medications you believe you will need next year? Do you want to get your health care and drug coverage through one single plan? If so, you should review your Medicare Advantage options.
• Convenience. To what extent will your plan restrict access to certain medications you need, such as through prior authorization or quantity limits? Can you use the plan at the pharmacy of your choice? Can you get your prescriptions through the mail if you prefer to?
• Customer service. Is your plan responsive when you have a question? Does it have a high quality rating as displayed in the Medicare Plan Finder?
The Southwind Extension District provides free, unbiased, confidential assistance by a certified SHICK Counselor to help you compare all 26 plans, providing you an estimate of your prescription costs for the upcoming year. Last year 50 percent of the beneficiaries I assisted who were new to Medicare or enrolled into a new plan saved over $440,000.  
It is also an opportunity if you have questions about how Medicare works, advantage plans (Part C), or supplement insurance plans. Those new to Medicare or those with questions about Medicare coverage may call the Extension office to discuss Medicare any time during the year.    I can also assist you with understanding how Medicare does or does not work with employer insurance or Marketplace health insurance plans. Evaluation of income and resources are also available to determine eligibility financial assistance programs such as Extra Help and Medicare Savings Program.
For an appointment, call me at 620-223-3720 or email: [email protected] In person appointments will be scheduled at our Extension offices located in Erie, Iola, Fort Scott, and Yates Center.


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