Seniors get an opportunity to shop around for new prescription drug coverage once a year and can potentially switch into a lower cost plan. Each state will have 39 or more prescription drug plans to choose from in 2010, each with different prices and coverage options. In Florida, for example, monthly premiums will range from $19.80 to $100.40 next year. But premium prices aren’t the only cost factor you should evaluate. More Part D drug plans will have deductibles and coverage gaps in 2010 than ever before.
“For the first time since the benefit was launched the majority of stand alone drug plans will have a deductible,” says Tricia Neuman, director of the Medicare Policy Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “People tend to focus on premiums, but other changes in Part D plans can significantly affect seniors spending on prescriptions in a year.” About 61 percent of drug plans will charge a deductible in 2010, up from 45 percent this year, according to a recent analysis of 2010 plans by researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Georgetown University, and the University of Chicago. Most Part D plans (80 percent) will also have a coverage gap in 2010, often referred to as the doughnut hole, up from 75 percent in 2009.
Seniors can compare expected out-of-pocket costs under various Part D plans using this Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services tool. Even if you’re happy with the coverage you have now, you should scrutinize your plan for changes and make sure there isn’t another plan that covers your medications at a lower cost. Retirees can switch into a new Part D plan during Medicare’s annual open enrollment period from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31.
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