Retirees are often surprised to learn that traditional Medicare does not cover prescription drug costs outside of a Medicare Part D plan in Arizona. To add more confusion, a myriad of options are available to seniors within Part D, each with its own positive and negative attributes. So, how do you know what Medicare Part D plan is right for your current circumstances and future uncertainties? You cannot make an informed decision if you are not informed, so start by educating yourself.
What Is Medicare Part D?
According to Medicare.gov, Medicare Part D adds “drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Private Fee‑for‑Service Plans, and Medical Savings Account Plans. You must have Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) to join a separate Medicare drug plan.”
To put it more simply, Part D = Drugs. Medicare Parts A and B do not offer outpatient prescription drug coverage. Medicare Part D consists of private plans that work in conjunction with Medicare to provide this coverage for a monthly fee.
When To Enroll In Medicare Part D
While there are special enrollment periods available for seniors experiencing changes in circumstances, for the most part, open enrollment for all Medicare plans begins three months before your 65th birthday and continues for another three months afterward.
Even if you are healthy now and take relatively few prescription drugs, you may want to research the options available and sign up for Part D coverage now. Why? For two important reasons:
- To avoid a late enrollment penalty.
Like its counterparts in Medicare Parts A, B and C, there is an enrollment period for Medicare Part D. Those enrolling in this coverage after the enrollment period has expired face financial penalties.
- Healthcare requirements change as we age.
Unfortunately, the aging progress is not kind. Even if you take care of yourself, even if you do not take prescription drugs now, there is no way to predict with certainty what your future needs will be. Selecting a Medicare Part D plan now ensures that you are covered when you need it.
Options For Medicare Part D Plans In Arizona
In the state of Arizona, there are far too many Medicare Part D plans available to make it easy for seniors, and the differences between them may be barely noticeable. For example, one Part D plan might offer a particular brand-name drug for $45 while another charges $95 for the same medication.
When choosing a Medicare Part D plan in Arizona, be sure to read the fine print and be aware that small changes in coverage can happen each year. Much like traditional health insurance, Part D plans tend to change in some way every year. For instance, one Part D plan might raise its premium, while another will raise the price for certain medications.
Starting in September, look for notices in your mailbox with details about how the plan you have selected will change in the coming year. Do not wait until January to review the messages and make changes because it will be too late. You will be stuck with coverage that does not suit your needs for another year.
Making An Informed Decision About Medicare Part D Saves You Money
Retirees in general, and those on a fixed income in particular, may be tempted to choose a Medicare Part D plan in Arizona based solely on the monthly premium, but this would be a big mistake. Why? Because of the vast gulf between what each policy may require you to pay for each prescription. Conversely, policies with the highest premiums may not necessarily provide you with the best coverage for your needs.
According to The Senior Citizen’s League, the criteria for choosing your Medicare Part D plan should include comparing the co-payments for drugs they are currently taking and the difference that changing pharmacies may make in final prescription cost.
What Is Medicare Advantage and Why Should I Consider It Over Medicare Part D?
Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, basically takes Original Medicare and bundles it with other cost-saving options. Each Medicare Advantage plan is different, depending on the insurer, but some Advantage plans offer excellent prescription drug benefits.
But even retirees who choose to purchase Medicare Advantage plans need to shop around. For instance, one company may offer to pay the total price of insulin for those enrolled in their Diabetes Plan. Another one might charge $10 co-pays. To learn more about Medicare Advantage Plans, click here.
Help Choosing 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. An independent Medicare supplement broker will guide you through the confusing world of Medicare and help you find a plan that best first your needs and your budget. And the best part? You will not pay a penny for their services. Talk to one of our independent, licensed health insurance brokers today.