Change. That is what we are seeing and hearing now. Leaves are turning and politicians are soliciting our vote. For those enrolled in a Medicare Part D drug plan this time of year also brings change, and with change comes the opportunity to look at options for Medicare Part D drug plans for 2009.
Open and read all mail from your plan.
Plan premiums can change every year.
In 2008, there were some premium increases, but also a few decreases in plan premiums.
In 2008, one very popular plan had a very moderate premium and no deductible, that premium will double in 2009.
Medicare requires that plans inform their members of changes for the next year.
If you miss Open Enrollment (Nov. 15 to Dec. 31) you cannot change plans until next year at the same time unless you qualify for Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs, also known as Low Income Subsidy, or qualify for a special enrollment period.
Plans may change their formulary and renegotiate drug pricing on a plan-to-plan basis which can affect a member's costs at the pharmacy. Some plans have chosen to leave the Part D market in 2009, and there are a few new plans coming in 2009.
Income and asset guidelines are updated each year allowing a beneficiary to apply for the Low Income Subsidy, which helps lower the Medicare Part D plan premium and medication co-pay. If your medication needs have changed in the past year, it is wise to compare your Part D plan to other plans that will cover those medications. Most formularies change annually.
And finally, call the Senior LinkAge Line at (800 ) 333-2433 for free, unbiased, assistance by phone or in person, to help determine the best plan for you in 2009. Last year, the Senior LinkAge Line assisted thousands of Medicare beneficiaries in Minnesota with Medicare Part D drug plan comparisons.
A Real Life Example: In November, a couple requested in person help from the Senior LinkAge Line with Medicare Part D. The couple had each enrolled in the same plan in 2006, even though they used different medications. In 2008, they received notice that each of their plan premiums for 2008 was going to increase almost $20 per month, which they could not afford. After reviewing their options with the Senior LinkAge Line staff and comparing the results of the Medicare plan comparison, they both changed to a new plan for 2008. The projected savings for them amounted to $1,500 each in 2008. The savings resulted from enrollment in a plan with a lower premium, as well as lower co-pays for the medications they needed. By getting help from the Senior LinkAge Line the couple saved $3,000 in one year! Anyone with Internet access can use the tool at www.medicare.gov.
Highly trained and knowledgeable staff and volunteers will meet with you in your community, including your home. Call now for a free appointment with the Senior LinkAge Line.
KATHIE PHILLIPS is a senior advocate for the Senior LinkAge Line.
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