A Prescription for Sticker Shock Caused by Drug Costs

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/23/a-prescription-for-sticker-shock-caused-by-drug-costs/

During the current enrollment period, from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, I decided to switch to another insurer. Since everyone with a computer is supposed to be able to do this, I gave it a try.

I am most happy to report that, despite the problems many consumers initially had signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the government did a great job with the website for Medicare Part D. Expecting the task to take hours, I enrolled with a new company in about 15 minutes. Here is the link:https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx.

You start by entering your ZIP code and answering two questions about your Medicare coverage. (Be sure to have your subscriber number handy.) Type in the name of each prescription drug you take, up to 25, as well as the dosage, quantity and frequency, and whether you get it from a pharmacy or by mail order.

If you choose a pharmacy, you are given a list of those near your home (the distances vary depending on your ZIP code). You are then asked to select the desired type of Medicare and drug plan. For example, I selected “drug plan with original Medicare.”

You can then refine your search according to such options as “limit to the monthly premium” (up to $290), “limit to annual deductible” (up to $360) and the company’s rating (I chose one with four stars out of five, the highest among the companies that fit my criteria).

The next screen estimated my annual drug and health care costs. Nineteen Part D plans were found in my ZIP code, listed from least to most expensive. For each company, the website showed my estimated annual drug costs if purchased retail or by mail order (cheaper by mail); the monthly premium, which in my case is deducted from my Social Security benefit; the annual deductible, if any; the drug co-pay amount; whether all my drugs are in the company’s formulary; and the company’s star rating.

By the way, if you can get your prescriptions written for a 90-day supply, the cost is less than for a 30-day supply refilled twice.

I did a general search on the Medicare website and found 23 other Part D plans that are cheaper than the one I currently have. But my plan has a zero deductible and only one of my new options has that. The others have at least a $360 annual deductible. Now, I have to look at all of them and choose one… my head hurts…

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