By: Carol Carter | Category: Financial Services | Issue: November 2019
The MAP (Medicare Assistance Program) team. From left to right, Roxanne King, Kathy Jones, Channing Rutherford and Mary Paluso.
For most Medicare beneficiaries, the Medicare Open Enrollment Period, which runs Oct. 15 – Dec. 7, is their only opportunity each year to enroll in or change their Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Medicare Part D helps thousands of Oklahoma Medicare beneficiaries, especially those with lower incomes or extremely high medication costs, enabling them to better afford the medications they need for both chronic and life-threatening health conditions.
Those who are already on a Part D plan are encouraged to review their coverage annually. Not only might their prescription drug needs have changed, but also the Part D formularies change every year. A plan that worked well for someone in 2019 may no longer cover their most expensive prescriptions in 2020. Without a review, they won’t find that out until prescriptions are filled in January, and then it will be too late to change plans.
The only way to ensure beneficiaries have the best coverage for their specific prescription drug needs is to compare plans on the Medicare.gov Plan Finder each year. In 2020 there will be 29 stand-alone Part D plans in Oklahoma from which to choose.
The Medicare Assistance Program (MAP) at LIFE Senior Services offers free Medicare education and enrollment assistance. During last year’s enrollment period, MAP helped more than 1,400 beneficiaries compare plans, and two-thirds of those chose to either enroll in Part D for the first time or switch plans, saving them each an average of $1,785. Altogether, MAP saved beneficiaries more than $1.6 million on their 2019 prescription drug costs.
For 2020, several important Medicare changes further necessitate beneficiaries reviewing their coverage options, including:
The “donut hole” has closed. In 2020 the beneficiary co-pays will be 25% of the providers’ negotiated prices for both brand name and generic drugs. The providers’ negotiated prices will vary from company to company.
With the closing of the donut hole, come new expenditure thresholds before reaching catastrophic coverage where beneficiaries pay only 5% of their drug costs.
Medicare has a brand new Plan Finder for comparing Part D and Medicare Advantage health plans. It is recommended that beneficiaries create a MyMedicare account to better manage all of their Medicare benefits and for optimum use of the new Plan Finder.
With these changes come even more ways for MAP at LIFE Senior Services to help Medicare beneficiaries navigate their options, including:
MAP counselors can help beneficiaries set up their MyMedicare.gov accounts.
MAP counselors will help beneficiaries compare Part D plans based on their individual prescription drug needs. They will explain the differences in the most affordable plans, and then enroll beneficiaries in the plan of their choice. In less than an hour, beneficiaries can feel confident that they have made the right choice for their 2020 Part D coverage.
MAP has expanded to offer up to 1,700 appointments during the Open Enrollment Period. Assistance is free, but appointments are required.
MAP is also expanding opportunities for phone appointments to help beneficiaries who are homebound or who live outside the Tulsa area.
Medicare Open Enrollment is currently underway, so don’t put off making an appointment for MAP’s Part D Clinics. MAP counselors will help ensure that you have the most cost-effective prescription drug coverage available for your medication needs in 2020.
Appointments are required and can be made by calling 918-664-9000, ext 1189.
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