How to Choose the Right Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage Plan - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

How to Choose the Right Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage Plan

Posted: Updated:
(ARA) - During the annual election period of November 15 through December 31, 2007, people are able to switch plans or enroll in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage through stand-alone plans or through integrated medical and prescription plans. Here's helpful information you should know when making your decision.

Medicare Part D offers insurance coverage for prescription drugs through private health insurance companies. The program covers specific brand-name and generic medicines at participating pharmacies in local communities -- providing protection for people who pay a lot each year for their medicines.

Medicare beneficiaries can receive prescription drug coverage through stand-alone plans, called Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs), or through plans called Medicare Advantage Part D (MAPD). PDPs supplement Medicare coverage while MAPD plans replace Medicare part A and provide medical benefits and prescription drug coverage.

"By enrolling in a plan with Medicare prescription drug coverage, a typical customer can save about 50 percent on their medicines," says Sam Rajan, a pharmacist and vice president of MemberHealth, which administers one of the nation's largest Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans, Community CCRx. "The savings vary from person to person based on their plan and how much medicine they use."

Everyone with Medicare is eligible to join a Medicare Part D or MAPD plan, regardless of income, health status or how much they currently spend on prescription medicines. There are two ways a Medicare recipient can receive Medicare Part D coverage:
* By enrolling in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) that covers prescription drugs only and works in conjunction with original Medicare
* Or, by enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan (MAPD) that covers physician and hospital care and prescriptions.

From November 15 through December 31, 2007, everyone eligible for Medicare is eligible to switch plans or enroll for coverage to begin on January 1, 2008.

Choosing the Right Plan
"While cost is important, it shouldn't be the only factor Medicare recipients consider when selecting a plan," says Rajan. "Equally important are what pharmacies participate and what drugs are covered by the plan."

When comparing costs of different Part D plans, Medicare beneficiaries should look at the amount they would pay each month (the premium), the amount they would have to pay before the plan shares the costs (the deductible) and the amount they would have to pay for their medications after they pay their deductible (the co-pay or coinsurance). The Federal government allows Medicare Part D-approved insurance companies to offer different plans that have different costs, and not all plans have deductibles.

Ask a Pharmacist for Help
According to the findings of the National Survey of Pharmacists and National Survey of Physicians on Medicare Part D by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 97 percent of pharmacists said their customers have asked them for help or advice about Medicare drug plans.

Medicare beneficiaries should consider asking their pharmacists to help with the following:
* Checking to see if the beneficiaries' pharmacies of choice are part of the plans' pharmacy networks
* Reviewing beneficiaries' current medications and comparing the plan's formulary
* If the medications they currently take are not covered, checking if an equivalent medication is covered
* Comparing plans to see if beneficiaries' medications are affordable
* Educating beneficiaries about what the plan offers, such as patient care services or face-to-face medication reviews with pharmacists

Additionally, pharmacies may have insurance agents in stores to help Medicare beneficiaries enroll in specific plans.

For more information about the Medicare Advantage Plans, other Medicare Health Plans, or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans available in your area, visit www.medicare.gov on the Web or call 1-800-MEDICARE or (800) 633-4227. TTY users should call (877) 486-2048.

Visit www.communityccrx.com for more information on its Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans. For Community CCRx Customer Service, call (866) 684-5353, every day, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. TTY users call (866) 684-5351.

Visit www.todaysoptionsccrx.com for more information about MAPD plans with Community CCRx prescription drug coverage, or call (866) 237-6926. TTY users call (866) 903-7421.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Content appearing on this page is supplied by third-parties on behalf of sponsors and does not necessarily reflect the views of this Station.

  • Senior LifeMore>>

  • Spokane Area Senior Centers

    Spokane Area Senior Centers

    Tuesday, April 28 2009 1:02 PM EDT2009-04-28 17:02:13 GMT
    This is a list of addresses and phone numbers for Senior Citizen Community Centers in the Spokane Area.>>
    This is a list of addresses and phone numbers for Senior Citizen Community Centers in the Spokane Area.>>
  • North Idaho Senior Centers

    North Idaho Senior Centers

    Thursday, April 23 2009 7:22 PM EDT2009-04-23 23:22:05 GMT
    This is a list of addresses and phone numbers for Senior Citizen Community Centers in the North Idaho Area.>>
    This is a list of addresses and phone numbers for Senior Citizen Community Centers in the North Idaho Area.>>
  • Senior Housing Options

    Senior Housing Options

    Independent Living/Retirement Communities, Assisted Living Communities, Skilled Nursing Facilities, and Adult Family Homes.  How are they different and how do you know which one is right for you?>>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/