By Mackenzie Blakeslee, MS, CFP® Associate Director of Financial Planning & Associate Trust Officer
The end of each calendar year brings with it lots of holidays, year-end tax planning, and many other things. Did you know the end of the year is also a great time to evaluate your current Medicare coverage? Every year presents a new opportunity to switch from your current Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to a new one if it provides you with better, more cost-effective coverage. This window of opportunity exists between October 15th and December 7th each year.
Some parts of Medicare, such as your supplemental plan, are harder to change after your initial enrollment. Your Medicare Part D coverage, however, can and should be reviewed and potentially changed each year. At the very least, it is important to review your coverage on an annual basis even if you choose not to make a change.
You may feel like you have great coverage this year, and there would be no reason to change Part D plans. So why, you ask, do we suggest reviewing your plan each year? Medicare Part D plans change their plan premiums from year to year, so what you are paying in 2021 may not be what you would pay for the plan in 2022.
Additionally, plans can choose which pharmacies they work with. For example, your pharmacy of choice may be a preferred pharmacy in 2021 on your current plan. However, that plan or pharmacy can decide not to work with one another in 2022, which causes the pharmacy to be out of network. This can cost you hundreds, if not thousands, in out-of-pocket prescription costs, or the hassle of changing pharmacies.
Certain drugs may change tiers in the Medicare system, as well. This change can be identified through the analysis process, and a different plan could reduce your cost. Or, for example, it may be beneficial to ask your doctor if you could switch to the generic version instead. You may have had changes to your own list of prescriptions. Your doctor may have prescribed a new drug during the year or taken one off your list. Adding or subtracting prescription drugs from your plan can have a large impact on cost and which plan you choose. Even changing the dosage can impact cost from plan to plan. This is another primary reason to review your Part D plan on an annual basis.
Medicare Part D analysis can be done annually during the Open Enrollment window (October 15th to December 7th) through www.medicare.gov. If you are reading this and don’t know where to begin, let us know. This analysis is something our Financial Planning Team specializes in.
To give you the best recommendation, we will ask for your prescription drug list and dosages, as well as your preferred pharmacy. We can then make a recommendation on cost if you stayed on your current plan versus switching to a new plan. In our experience, sometimes clients want to stay on their current plan because the cost difference is low. However, in other cases, we have seen clients save up to $10,000 for the year by switching their Part D plan.
We would love the opportunity to help evaluate your current plan. Give us a call today! An Advisor or member of our Financial Planning Team would be delighted to speak with you. Contact us at 800.285.7878 or email@example.com.
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