October 15, 2014
Seniors on Original Medicare have the ability to change Plan D prescription drug plans each year at the same time. You can have a Part D drug plan no matter if you are on original Medicare or Medicare Advantage, However, with a Medicare Advantage plan you do not get to choose your Plan D coverage. You must accept the one packaged with your Medicare Advantage plan. With Original Medicare you can choose from among the 25 or so plans available to you in your area. In this Blog post we are going to illustrate how to use the Medicare.gov website to find the best, most cost effective Part D drug plan for you.
The Medicare.gov website is a wealth of information about Medicare. Virtually anything you need to know about Medicare Parts A, B, C and D are on this site, managed by the U.S. government Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Of course, having the information available does not necessarily mean it’s easy to find. “Which Part D prescription drug plan is best for me?” is one of the most common questions we hear. In the post below we will illustrate how you, and any other Medicare beneficiary, can find the answer ans enroll in Part D Medicare without the assistance of an agent or broker.
We also have this in video format: How To shop For a Medicare Part D Plan
Start by visiting the Medicare.gov home page. (As an aside, with upgraded web technology none of us need to type in the www. Anymore. It’s simply not necessary.) Once you are on the Medicare.gov website, look across the blue horizontal menu tabs. In about the middle of the page is a “button” labelled “Drug Coverage (Part D)”. When you place your mouse cursor over the button you see a light blue drop down menu. The last item on that drop down menu is “Find health & drug plans”. Click on that item.
Clicking on that link brings you to a page they have title “Medicare Plan Finder”. This page gives you the ability to search for a plan with either a General Search of a Personalized Search. We prefer the General Search and will illustrate that here because it does not require you to input any personal information or trust that it will be stored securely on the “cloud: The General Search is your fist choice. Simply enter your current zip code and press the “Find Plans” button. For those whose zip code spans more than one county, there may be a pop up asking which county you live in. Choose the correct county and continue.
Now comes the part where this could get complicated if you let it. The page you are on now is titled “Step 1 of 4: Enter Information”. There are two questions asked on this page, with multiple choice selections for answers. How you answer these questions will set in motion what information is provided in the next few pages. The first question is simply asking what kind of Medicare coverage you have, if any. The second question is asking if you pay for this yourself or with government assistance.
For those readers on original Medicare with Medigap insurance and want to get to their Part D question answered quickly, just select “Original Medicare” to answer the first question and “I don’t get any Extra Help” on the second question and press “Continue to Plan Results”.
Now you are on “Step 2 of 4: Enter Your Drugs”. If you have regular prescriptions this page will make sure you get an accurate price for your expected costs and to help make certain you select a Part D plan that will best cover your prescriptions. If you do not currently have any prescriptions, or simply don’t want to include them in your decision-making, then select either “I don’t take any drugs.” Or “I don’t want to add drugs now” at the arrow marked “1” below. Otherwise, you will need your drug names and dosage, whether or not you can use a generic, if you get the drugs via a local pharmacy or U.S. mail. You can enter your drugs in the section marked “2”. What you enter will be displayed in section 3 and you can save that information to use again in part 4. When you are done, press the “My Drug List is Complete” button. We added a couple medications just to show what your medication list would look like.
If you added a list of medications and indicated that you prefer to pick them up from a pharmacy, the next page will list the pharmacies in your area that can fulfil your prescription. In this case, there is just one pharmacy but we must still click on “Add pharmacy” to continue. Pressing “Continue with Plan Results” will move to the next page.
This brings us to “Part 4 of 4: Refine Your Plan Results”. In our opinion, this page isn’t necessary because you already answered this in the first two questions covered earlier. Still, there it is.
In section 1 it lists your current plan type and the drug list ID, if any. In section 2, you select what you want to see. If you are on original Medicare with a Medicare Supplement policy simply select the first choice and click continue. If you are considering Medicare Advantage you might choose from one of the other selections.
After you click “Continue” you are finally on the page that lists your Part D plan options. There are two sections to this “Your Plan Results” page. The top simply lists your current plan and attempts to identify potential out-of-pocket expenses. I have yet to see this as an accurate display. The second section just below shows you how many Part D plans are available in your area. You have the option of selecting multiple plans and then comparing them side by side.
Typically, the first plan displayed is going to be the best choice for you. In this case it’s the Human Wal-Mart listed on top. When you place a check next to a plane and then click its name you will be taken with contact information and other details about the plan selected. The other choice you have is to enrol from this page. You can use the toll-free number to call and enrol if you choose.
Another option is to enrol directly from this page. Simply click the “Enroll” button in the right hand most column of the “Your Plan Results” we page. This will start your application process to get your Part D drug care plan. You can only enrol during the Open Season, if you are new to Medicare during your Open Enrollment period or if you have a Special Enrollment period. If you are unsure about your situation you can either call our office at 800-847-9680.