|Photo by nirbhao.|
Open enrollment takes place every year from October 15th through December 7th.
During this time, smart consumers look at their plan's cost projections for the next calendar year and compare those costs with other plans.
$$$ Switching often saves people hundreds of dollars over a year. $$$
I have witnessed this first hand. I helped beneficiaries during three Open Enrollment periods (2011, 2012, and 2013). I learned a great deal about Part D when I was a volunteer counselor working with SHICK (Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas, Sedgwick County EO location).
Even if you are not on Medicare Part D at this time, learn a little about the program so that you can help an aging parent and so that you can be better informed of the process before you eventually enroll.
If you have never compared plans, you can get help in a couple of ways.
1. You can meet for free with a local SHIP counselor.
SHIP stands for or State Health Insurance Assistant Program. Search for one near you by using this link. This is a FREE service, paid for by your tax dollars. It can be difficult to secure an appointment if you wait too long during Open Enrollment, so call today.
2. You can compare plans yourself online by using Medicare's Plan Finder.
I had the opportunity of helping about 100 beneficiaries compare plans by using the Plan Finder.
The beneficiary enters his or her personal information (in a secured site) and then enters all of his or her prescription medications (indicating specific prescription information--drug name, dosage, and frequency taken over a month). Also, entering the beneficiary's zip code helps the software find local pharmacies in order to show their copay costs.
The Plan Finder software then produces the results for lowest monthly premium, deductible, and copays available at local pharmacies.
Sometimes recipients changed their insurance company for the upcoming year. Sometimes they changed pharmacist. Sometimes they kept both. Sometimes they changed both. The savings were remarkable for many beneficiaries that I helped, sometimes totaling hundreds of dollars of savings over the next year.
This online tool is hosted by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). Here is the first of 5 tutorials that guide you through the process.
All my best to the thousands of people in the US who are Medicare Part D beneficiaries. I hope that you are able to find an insurance plan best suited for your needs.
Part D Open Enrollment
Penalty for Delaying Enrollment in Part D
The Donut Hole Is Closing by 2020
Quick and Dirty Medicare Basics (Parts A, B, C & D)