The 3 ‘D’s of Determining Your Medicare Part D Plan

The 3 ‘D’s of Determining Your Medicare Part D Plan

(StatePoint) Enrollment in Medicare Part D is on the rise. Having increased 12 percent since 2017, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the popularity of this prescription drug benefit may be due to the decline in the cost of basic premiums, projected to drop for the third year in a row.

Part D plans help people save on the costs of prescriptions and knowing these three Ds will help you maximize those savings in 2020.

1. Drug Coverage: While Part D plans are approved by CMS, they’re offered through private companies. So, as with any other type of insurance purchase, plans will vary in coverage and cost, allowing you to choose one that best fits your needs.

It’s important to know that plans change year-to-year, so one that covered your prescriptions in 2019, may not necessarily in 2020. Making sure the medications you take are covered by the plan you choose at a price you can afford will avoid costly surprises in 2020.

This includes checking not only if medications are covered, but how. Each plan places covered drugs into tiers that are assigned a different copay; that’s the out-of-pocket cost you pay when you fill a prescription. Check the tier in which your medication is covered.

2. Deductible: Don’t rule out plans on deductibles alone. That’s just one factor to consider. For example, a $0 deductible deal may sound good until you realize your medication is not covered. When comparing plans, consider what experts call the “overall cost,” which includes the premium you pay monthly, the deductible you’ll need to pay before your plan starts covering medication, and the copay. To estimate “overall cost,” make a list of your medications. Then, check how each is covered by the plans available to you.

3. Due Diligence: If you’re enrolled in a Part D plan, you’ll receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). All plans are required to mail the ANOC by September 30 and also post it to their website by October 15. That notice will inform you of the changes your plan will make starting January of 2020. Review this carefully.

If you’re looking to add a Part D plan in 2020, start by making a list of the medications you take. On October 1 of every year, companies share information about what medications they’re covering in next year’s plans. You can then compare how the medications you need will be covered and estimate the “overall cost” based on the plans offered in your area.

Want an easy-to-use guide to help you choose the plan that’s best for you? A free checklist to compare plans is available at, as well as step-by-step instructions to help you prepare for Medicare open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 – Dec. 7.

Empowering yourself now with the information you’ll need during open enrollment will ensure you choose the plan that can best help your health and wallet in 2020.

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