Fall is a time of change. Most people love watching the leaves change color and the beauty that nature displays during this time of year. Some changes are less exhilarating. One of those kinds of changes could apply to your Medicare drug plan, which could be quite exciting, depending on the amount of money you could save.
October 15th -December 7th is the annual open enrollment for Part D. For Medicare beneficiaries this means:
_-Those who are already enrolled in a drug plan can check to see if all of their medications will still be covered under their current plan in 2021 and if that plan is still the least expensive option. Plans can, and do, change their drug formularies from year to year.
-Even if your plan’s formulary doesn’t change and your drugs are still covered, you could experience a substantial increase in premium. When calculating your drug costs, you should consider premiums, deductibles, and co-pays for the year.
-People who have never enrolled in a drug plan have the chance to enroll.* If you enroll in Part D for the first time during this open enrollment period, your plan will be effective beginning January 1st, 2021. Exceptions to this coverage date would be if the person is new to Medicare and is enrolling in a drug plan during their initial enrollment period. In that case Medicare Part D would begin on the first day of the month after enrollment. (For instance, if you are new to Medicare and enroll in a drug plan in October, your coverage would begin on November 1st.)
-Although Medicare Advantage Plans are not available in several counties throughout the country (Bear Lake County is one of these), people who have Advantage plans can change during this open enrollment if they so choose. (Much of the Medicare advertising you see on TV applies to Medicare Advantage Plans, not traditional Medicare).
State Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) are uniquely trained to answer Medicare questions and help beneficiaries during enrollment periods. Advisors help navigate the different drug plans and tailor them to the individual. This includes considering all options for acquiring prescription drugs. SHIBA advisors make no commissions, and give free, un-biased advice to beneficiaries. The locally state-certified SHIBA advisor is Kim Hulme, who can be reached at Bear Lake Memorial Hospital at 208.847.0949.
*If you didn’t sign up for Part D when you were first eligible, you may have to pay a penalty on your premium, which is 1% of the national base premium for every month you could have had coverage.