Part D Annual Election Period – when is it and what can you do ?
For most people, the opportunity to make changes to Part D happens once a year. Whether you call it the Annual Election Period, Part D Open Enrollment or the Annual Enrollment Period, it all means the same thing.
The time to assess your options and potentially change plans begins each year on October 15th and ends on December 7th.
During this time you are encouraged to compare Part D plans and choose what you believe is right for you. Most people will be locked into a Part D plan for a full calendar year.
Allowed Part D changes include:
- Keep your current plan
- Drop Part D all together (not recommended)
- Switch Part D plans
- Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan with Part D included (although you cannot have both a Medicare Advantage plan and Medicare supplement)
With the exception of dropping Part D all together, your new plan (even if it has the same name) will become effective on January 1st.
Get an early start on the Annual Election Period
Medicare plans will be made public on October 1st. You can visit plan provider websites or go to the Medicare website and search for available plans in your area.
The information on the Medicare website is more of a top level overview that relies on you to enter a list of all your medications and preferred pharmacies to filter a list of plans that they believe will meet your needs.
Visiting plan websites will allow you to research benefits and plan formularies more thoroughly. Often plan websites will list the most popular medications. You want to dig deeper and find the comprehensive Part D formulary for any plan that you are considering.
Here are the most important things to review:
- Part D formulary – This is a list of all covered medications with information about each drugs tier placement.
- Annual deductible – For 2013 plans deductibles can range from $0 to $325.
- Copay and coinsurance amounts – Word to the wise… it’s a lot easier to calculate costs when plans have set copayment amounts.
- The monthly premium – this should not be your primary concern. If your drugs are not covered the cheapest plan will be of little value.
- Network of pharmacies – Are you required to use preferred pharmacies to get the best cost sharing amount?
- The mail order option – Some plans will have far superior mail order benefits that others.
1. Compare plans online to save time.
2. Recognize that a plan’s formulary is the most important feature.
3. Be sure to factor all of Part D’s moving parts into your projected costs.
The Part D Annual Election Period is the time to evaluate your options. Don’t make the mistake of letting it slip by.