Tips from The Senior Citizens League
Drug plans across the nation are making significant changes to their coverage in 2012. Even though premiums may stay about the same, many plans are imposing new or higher deductibles and significantly higher co-pays, dropping coverage on some drugs, and kicking other drugs into higher costing tiers.
Now’s the time to start learning about the changes your Medicare drug plan is making for 2012. Your chance to make changes during the Medicare fall Open Enrollment period ends early this year on December 7th. Get unbiased help comparing drug plans from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Contact your Area Agency on Aging. https://shiptalk.org/public/home.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f
2012 Drug Plan Checklist:
To avoiding drug overcharges and to save money the first time you fill prescriptions in the New Year, here’s a checklist:
Does your drug plan still cover your prescriptions in 2012? Drug plans don’t normally include the full formulary of covered drugs in their annual booklets. Check the drug plan web site, or call its customer service number if you don’t see one or more of your prescriptions listed in the booklet for 2012. If your drug plan drops coverage of a medication you take, contact your doctor and find out if there’s an alternate that may be covered by your drug plan.
Is the pharmacy you normally visit listed as a preferred network pharmacy for 2012? Before you visit your pharmacy to fill prescriptions in 2012, make sure it’s a “preferred” network pharmacy. If you purchase your prescriptions from a pharmacy that’s not in your drug plan’s preferred network, you may pay more, or even the full cost of your prescription. Insurers can change preferred pharmacies from year to year. To learn whether your pharmacy is a preferred network pharmacy, check with your drug plan before you go.
Have your brand prescriptions gone off patent and become available as generic? The patents are expiring on a number of the nation’s top-selling brand drugs like the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, and the blood thinner Plavix. If your drug plan no longer covers your brand drug, it may cover the generic version.
Has your prescription drug moved to a higher formulary tier or is it still the same as it was in 2011? When drug plans bump covered drugs to higher formulary tiers, beneficiaries pay more in co-pays or co-insurance. If this happens to you, find out if there’s a similar drug to treat your condition that’s listed on a lower tier that you can try. Talk to your doctor and get a new prescription if it’s appropriate for you.
Does your drug plan have a new deductible starting in January? Drug plans can impose new deductibles, even if you didn’t pay one the year before. When there is a deductible, you pay the full cost of prescriptions until the deductible is met.
Does your drug plan offer lower costs for 90 - day and mail order prescriptions in 2012? If you take one or more prescription medications daily you can sometimes save significantly by ordering a 90 - day supply by mail. Check the booklet from your prescription drug plan for mail order information or call your drug plan.
Do you have the 2012 drug card to present at the pharmacy? Make sure to present your 2012 drug card every time you fill a prescription and double check that it is returned.
For more tips like these to save on your Medicare costs and to maximize your Social Security benefits, sign up for The Senior Citizens League’s Social Security & Medicare Advisor newsletter at www.seniorsleague.org. or call 1-800-333-8725 for more information.
Reprinted with permission from The Senior Citizens League,1001 N. Fairfax St. #101, Alexandria, VA 22314, www.seniors.league.org, 1-800-333-8725.