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How to Choose a Medicare Part D Plan in Arizona

The best way to plan your Medicare Part D coverage is to start early and become educated about the choices in Arizona. Find out how a broker can help!
Wednesday, 23 January 2013

part_d_plan_arizonaA lot has been written about the changes to Medicare, and proposed changes yet to come, so it's no surprise that so many Arizona seniors are confused about their choices. One of the most common questions in this state is, "How do I choose a Part D plan?" According to a recent article from the Tucson Citizen, "Medicare Part D: So many choices!" (October 16, 2012), a study by Health Affairs revealed that seniors overspend on prescription drug plans by more than $368 per year. The reason for this is that they pay for more coverage than they need. In fact, only 5.2 percent of seniors chose the most economical Medicare Part D plan available for them.

In the state of Arizona, seniors now have 29 different plans to consider, but there are a total of 1,736 Part D plans available to Medicare recipients. There are far too many plans available to make it easy for seniors, but the differences between them are barely noticeable. For example, one Part D plan might offer a certain brand-name drug for a $45 while another charges $95 for the same drug.

Why do Medicare Part D plans change every year?

Not every plan changes that much, but they do tend to change in some way every year. One Part D plan might raise its premium, while another will raise the price for certain medications. When evaluating an Arizona Part D plan, it's important to read the fine print. Look for a notice in the mail in September, with details about how the plan will change in the coming year. Do not wait until January to make changes because by then it will be too late.

How does one purchase a Part D Medicare plan?

Once you enroll in Parts A and B (basic Medicare), the next step is to choose supplemental insurance. This won't be necessary if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan because those plans already include a selection of supplemental coverage. However, many seniors prefer to purchase Medicare Advantage as a stand-alone plan. Keep in mind that every version of this plan has a co-pay and they each are affected by the donut hole.

What is the benefit of Medicare Advantage prescription coverage?

Each Medicare Advantage plan is different, depending on the insurer and the geographic area, but some Advantage plans offer very good Part D benefits. One company offers to pay the full price of insulin for those enrolled in their Diabetes Plan. Another one might charge $10 co-pays. The benefit of pre-packaged Medicare plans is how they are designed to meet the needs of the most common medical conditions.

Mail order prescriptions once offered Medicare recipients the option to purchase a three-month supply for the price of two, but that price break is going away this year for Medicare Advantage members. Unless you read every detail of the plan changes, you may have missed this important detail.

Is it better to have so many choices?

According to the Health Affairs study, seniors are not benefitting from all the choices in Part D and it would be hard to imagine Medicare is saving money when they are marketing 1,700+ plans. Seniors may have more plans to choose from, but are they saving money? With all the annual changes, keeping up with Part D plans can be very tiresome and tedious.

Choosing a Medicare Part D plan in Arizona

Even if you've never worked with a health insurance broker, now may be the time to consider it. Sure, you could wade through the information you receive in the mail from various providers, or sign up for a seminar that helps you understand the differences, but no one is better informed about the changes in Medicare than an Arizona health insurance broker. Because they normally represent a few different companies, brokers are able make recommendations that make sense for each individual client.

The best way to plan your Medicare Part D coverage is to start early and become educated about the choices in Arizona. Brokers will normally ask you to fill out a survey or questionnaire so they can understand your current prescription drug needs. Oftentimes a broker will know about a brand new plan that will save you hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars per year.

Source citation: Tucson Citizen, "Medicare Part D: So many choices!" (October 16, 2012) - article no longer available online

Photo Courtesy of vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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