Medicare open enrollment: Choosing the Part D plan best for your needs

The Iowa Insurance Division’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) is reminding Iowans of the Medicare Open Enrollment period which is currently underway and ends December 7.

“It’s important for Iowans eligible for Medicare to carefully review their options each year,” Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said. “There is still time during this open enrollment to have trained members of our SHIIP team help Iowans sort through the many different options to make sure they are getting the right coverage for them and the best bang for their buck.”

Four things for Iowans to focus on during open enrollment are:

• Formulary - A formulary is a list of drugs that a plan covers. The drugs you take need to be on the plan’s formulary. If a drug isn’t covered, you will pay the full cost of the drug out of your pocket.
• Total Cost - Look at the total cost of the drug plan, not just the premium or deductible or co-payments. A plan with a deductible may cost less than a plan without a deductible if all your drugs are covered and the costs for each drug tier are lower.
• Restrictions - Plans may limit the quantity they will supply of certain drugs, require you to get approval before they will fill a prescription, or ask you to try similar lower cost drugs before they will cover a more expensive drug.
• Pharmacy - Check if your pharmacy is preferred and in-network. Some plans have both preferred and standard pharmacies in their network. You may pay less for drugs at a preferred pharmacy. If your pharmacy is not in-network you will pay the full cost for your drugs.

Part D plans can change everything from year to year - including the formulary, costs, restrictions and pharmacy networks. Use the Medicare Open Enrollment Period to compare plans and be sure you have the best plan to meet your needs for 2018.

Call SHIIP at 1-800-351-4664 (TTY 800-735-2942) for help comparing plans.  SHIIP is a free, confidential service of the State of Iowa. After doing a comparison, if you find that your current coverage still meets your needs, then you’re done. If you need to change plans, be sure you get it done by December 7.

SHIIP volunteers are available locally at Veterans Memorial Hospital offering free informational materials as well as impartial one-on-one assistance with Medicare coverage, Medicare supplement insurance, long term care insurance, Medicare and insurance claims, and other related issues. To make an appointment with a local SHIIP volunteer at Veterans Memorial Hospital, call the hospital at 563-568-3411.
 

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