How can you tell which is the best Medicare Part D plan?
Times are tough. Money is tight. And the cost of prescription drugs are through the roof. So with all the choices available how do you find the best Medicare Part D plan?
If you are sticking with original Medicare, choosing a Medigap policy or enrolling in a Private fee-for-service Advantage plan without drug coverage you should have a strategy to find the best Part D plan that money can buy.
If you are enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan with Part D coverage you need to consider the Part D benefits as a major component of the plan.
But what strategy do you follow? How do you know that you are choosing the best Medicare Part D plan?
First… the wrong way to find the best Medicare Part D plan
As with everything else there is a right way and a wrong way to find the best Medicare drug plan. Too many people choose the wrong way every year then complain about their coverage when things don’t go as they expected.
The wrong way is to choose thePart D plan with the lowest premium. You may be able to use this strategy when buying certain commodities but the stakes are to high when both your money and your health are involved.
Maybe if you are in excellent health, take little or no medications and have deep pockets if the unexpected arises you can get by with the Part D plan with the lowest monthly premium but things change. As you age the likelihood that you will require expensive medications increases. So at some point you may need to adopt a different strategy.
Top three things to consider when comparing Medicare Part D plans
- The formulary. A standard Medicare Part D formulary does not exist. The formulary will list all medications covered by the plan. If your drugs are not covered the lowest monthly premium means nothing. Saving a few dollars and having to pay for an expensive medication is not smart.
- The Formulary again! Another important piece of information contained in the formulary is which tier a drug is placed in. Part D plans normally have 4 tiers. Tiers range from tier 1 – preferred generics, to tier 4 specialty drugs as in hold onto your wallet! Here’s the thing – a specific drug may be listed in different tiers by different companies. It’s not uncommon for a cholesterol lowering medication to be listed as tier 2 by one company and tier three by another. The higher the tier – the more costly the copay or coinsurance.
- Back to the money. This comes after the formulary. The money is not only the monthly premium but also whether or not a deductible is required and the copayment and coinsurance amounts. Another factor is whether or not you receive a discount to use preferred pharmacies and the benefits of the mail order pharmacy service. As a federally regulated program all Part D plans will have the same standard benefit model.
You can also visit the Medicare website and search for 5 star Part D plans. A 5 star plan does not mean that you will have the most comprehensive formulary or that the plan will be the best value.
But if your choice comes down to 2 plans with similar costs that include your medications you may find a better customer experience with a Part D plan.
If you start with the plan’s formulary and then consider the overall costs of the plan as a secondary consideration you will more than likely find the best Medicare Part D plan for your circumstances. And after reading this article
you should have recognized that the best Part D plan is an individual consideration – there is not a universally best plan.