A Senior Moment
Advice for Seniors Enrolling in the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
The new Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) that rolled out last fall is helping millions of seniors save money on their prescription drugs, but the program has some potential snags that can trip you up if you’re not careful.
The basic plan costs about $32 a month. There is a $250 annual deductible, then you pay 25 percent of your yearly drug costs, until your total drug costs (including the 75 percent paid by Medicare), reach $2,250. You pay 100 percent of your next $2,850 in drug costs. This is commonly known as the “donut hole.” Once your out-ofpocket costs reach $3,600, then Medicare begins picking up 95 percent. However, there are many plans with many different insurance companies, each with their own options, so you need to shop for the best plan for your needs.
Larry Ulvilla, president of Insurance Solutions who advises the hospital on insurance issues, offers some tips about choosing a drug plan.
Mr. Ulvila said, “In Maryland, there are more than 40 plans with 20 insurance companies. They all offer different packages, so it’s important to find the one that’s most beneficial to you,” he said. “Once you have selected a plan and enrolled, it’s also important to stay abreast of any changes to your plan, which is inevitable, and to any changes in your prescriptions, which may affect your costs. Watch for prescription drugs that are released for over the counter (OTC) sales. Drugs, such as Claritin, are much cheaper as an OTC than as a prescription medication, and you may be paying more than you need.” But you may find that you’re better off using the prescription drug, because most insurance companies will not reimburse for OTCs, he said.
Medicare’s website, www.medicare.gov provides information on all of the plans available in Maryland. This site also provides interactive tools to help you find the plan that is best for you. The county Department of Aging and the Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) (see contact information at right) provide education and assistance with plan selection.
Medicare Part D Seminar
Larry Ulvila, in conjunction with the AAMC Community Health and Wellness, will hold a free Medicare Part D seminar 6-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 26 in the Sajak Pavilion. Call askAAMC at 443-481-4000 to register by phone or register online.
Mr. Ulvila offered these tips: