The open season for Medicare Part D drug coverage sign ups began last week. The sign ups will run from October 15th to December 7th. Jack Myers of the Social Security Administration explains: “Anybody who is in a prescription drug program right now or is on Medicare and would consider signing up for a prescription drug program under Medicare part D, now is the time to make a change if you want or to sign up.”
Myers says it’s also the time to sign up or switch to another Medicare program: “If you make that change in this open season, it becomes effective in January. Bascially, anybody who is on Medicare can qualify for the prescription drug program. The other change you can make this time of year is if you want a Medicare Advantage plan, which is basically what we would refer to as a bundled Medicare plan, can be signed up for. There are the regular Medicare programs and sometimes people purchase supplemental plans on top of that. The Medicare Advantage plan bundles all those plans together and is sold by a private insurance company under the guidelines of Medicare. You can sign up for that when you first go on Medicare or during this open season.”
Myers tells you how to sign up: “Medicare is the source for the plans information. You can give them a call at 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227) or you can go online to medicare.gov to find the forms you need to complete.”
Myers says that someone’s prescriptions may need to shift someone to a different plan because some drugs are covered and others are not under certain plans. Myers says each plan has a different structure: “Maybe what made sense for you when you signed up for it, no longer makes sense now because you’ve had a change in prescriptions. There are a lot of different ways that these plans are structured. Some are structured so that someone has a low premium but their co-pays and their deductibles are higher. Those are the types of plans that are good for people who don’t take many prescriptions, but maybe as your needs change, if you take more medicine – you might find that a plan with that has a slightly higher premium but lower co-pays and lower deductibles makes more sense. It’s always a good time during this open season to revisit what your situation is. A husband and wife may not always need to be on the same plan because you take different medications. There is a ‘Plan Finder’ tool on the Medicare.gov website as well that can help you find which plan is right for you.”
Myers says that some Medicare D participants may also be eligible for financial assistance through the Social Security Administration’s Extra Help program. To sign up for the Extra Help program, you can visit socialsecurity.gov and find the form to apply.