The Med Diva

An insider's guide to Medicare Part D and more

Archive for the category “Choosing a Medicare Part D Plan”

Caution: Stay away from Medicare Part D plans that have received sanctions from CMS

MH900349511This past week, I had to create a letter regarding a Medicare Part D plan that has been sanctioned by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for conduct that “poses a serious threat to the health and safety of Medicare beneficiaries.”

Government sanctions, or penalties, are just one more reason it is critical for you to review your Part D options every year. If you are in a plan that has received sanctions from CMS, you definitely want to look for a plan that has a high star rating (3 ½ stars or better) to make sure you are going to receive the services you pay for and deserve.

SmartD Rx, a new Part D plan from the Smart Insurance Company, is one plan that is not currently accepting enrollments due to CMS sanction action (I guess the company is not so smart). Here is just part of the letter from CMS to Smart Insurance Company regarding its SmartD Rx plan:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hereby informs Smart Insurance Company (Smart) of its determination to immediately impose intermediate sanctions…

These intermediate sanctions will consist of the suspension of the enrollment of Medicare beneficiaries…and the suspension of all marketing activities to Medicare beneficiaries. CMS is imposing these intermediate sanctions immediately, effective April 23, 2013…because it has determined that Smart’s conduct poses a serious threat to the health and safety of Medicare beneficiaries.

In its short tenure as a Part D sponsor, Smart has experienced widespread failures in numerous important operational areas including:

• Smart inappropriately rejected drug claims at the point of sale (i.e., pharmacy counter);

• Smart failed to properly process coverage determinations (i.e., requests for drug coverage or payment and reimbursement);

• Smart denied enrollees the chance to appeal rejected claims and failed to ensure that denied coverage determinations were reviewed by an independent third party; and

• Smart failed to process enrollment and disenrollment requests, or failed to properly process enrollment transactions.

As a result of Smart’s noncompliance, its enrollees have experienced delays or denials in receiving prescription drug coverage and increased out-of-pocket costs.

CVS Caremark’s SilverScript is another Part D plan that received sanctions from CMS in 2013. In its letter to the SilverScript Insurance Company—a subsidiary of CVS Caremark – CMS wrote:

Since January 1, 2013, SSIC has experienced widespread data system failures that have directly led to extensive violations of the Part D program’s requirements regarding enrollment processing, call center operation, and claims processing. These failures have created disruptions in tens of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries’ access to prescription medications.

 From January 1 through January 14, 2013, CMS received 2,340 complaints about SSIC’s Part D operations. CMS has received complaints about SSIC at a rate four times greater than the rate of complaints received about all other Part D sponsors combined during the same period.

Other Medicare plan sponsors that have been sanctioned by CMS in the past include HealthNet,  Arcadian, and Universal American (all 2010), and Universal Health Care Insurance Company (2013). You can go to the Part C and Part D Enforcement Actions page on the CMS website for a complete list of plans that have received sanctions and other enforcement actions or had sanctions lifted.

How to get out of a bad Medicare plan

If you are enrolled in a plan that has been sanctioned, and you have personally been affected by your plan’s poor performance, you may be able to get out and switch plans outside of the Open Enrollment period. Your chance to switch is determined by CMS on a case-by-case basis, so you’ll need to call Medicare at 1 800 MEDICARE (1 800 633-4227), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY: 1 877 486-2048. Or go to this page at Medicare.gov for more information.

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Picking a Medicare Part D Plan is not that confusing, but it can be aggravating!

Picking a part D plan can be aggravatingYesterday, I came across an article on the Healthcare Savvy blog titled “Picking a Medicare Part D Plan Is Not as Confusing as They Say.” The author made some valid arguments based on statistics, but I just had to reply to let him know that I beg to differ with him on several points.   

According to the author, although Medicare beneficiaries have numerous Part D plans from which to choose, it really isn’t that difficult to pick a plan once you break them down into three categories:

  • Plans for those who don’t take any drugs
  • Plans for those who take only a few lower-cost generic drugs
  • Plans for those who take numerous or expensive drugs, and therefore end up in the Coverage Gap

 I’m not going to get into the details here (you can read the article for more info if you’d like), but the problem with this theory is that it only looks at one part of the equation, and that is the cost. Yes, if you just look at overall costs it’s fairly simple to pick a Part D plan. The thing is, if you really want to get the most value for your Medicare dollar—and receive high-quality customer service that leaves you feeling satisfied rather than frustrated—there are a few other things to consider.  For example:

  • You should always make sure your drugs are covered under the plan’s List of Covered Drugs (Formulary).  The Medicare Plan Finder can help you find plans that cover your drugs, but I do know for a fact that for someone who takes multiple medications, it can be very time-consuming (and not always easy) to find a plan that will cover them all.
  • Although the author of said article disagrees with me on this point, I always tell people to choose a plan with a high star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The star ratings measure everything from customer service issues such as call wait times to clinical issues such as adherence rates for members taking diabetes and hypertension medications. Starting in 2015, CMS will begin terminating the contracts of Part D and Part C sponsors that fail to receive at least a 3-star (average) rating for 3 years in a row—so if you choose a low-rated plan, you may end up having to switch plans in two years. To me, that’s a hassle.
  • If you take a lot of medications—or several expensive medications—you may want to find a plan that can help you lower your prescription drug costs and delay entering the Coverage Gap. For example, plans with home delivery can often save you a lot of money if you choose that option. Unfortunately, not all plans have a home delivery service.

So no, it really isn’t difficult or confusing to pick a Part D plan during Medicare Open Enrollment, especially with online tools like the Medicare Plan Finder. But if you’ve been in a plan that meets all your needs for years and find out you have to leave because of low star ratings—or because the plan decides to raise prices or remove some of your drugs from the formulary—than it becomes an aggravation. Plain and simple.

Study suggests most Medicare beneficiaries are paying too much for their Part D coverage

Seniors Pay Too Much for MedicareApproximately 20 percent of Medicare beneficiaries spend at least $500 more than they need to for their Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, according to a new Health Affairs study released this week. That’s a lot of money being kept out of the piggy bank.

According to University of Pittsburgh researchers Chao Zhou and Yuting Zhang, only 5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries buying a Part D plan choose the plan that’s cheapest for them relative to their prescription drug needs. Based on their analysis of 2009 Part D data, the average beneficiary paid $368 more in premiums and drug costs than they would have if they’d chosen the least expensive plan that was right for them.

Zhou and Zhang attribute most of the overspending to seniors’ inclinations to pick Medicare plans with more generous features and lower deductibles, and thus, higher premiums. For example, they noted that the biggest mistake people make is picking a plan that covers generic drugs in the Coverage Gap (doughnut hole). Many beneficiaries appear to be paying hundreds of dollars more in premiums for this feature than they get back in drug benefits—perhaps because they don’t ask their doctors to prescribe generic drugs or they just never reach the Coverage Gap.

However, the researchers acknowledge there are also a few reasons why Part D beneficiaries may not want to choose the cheapest plan. Some seniors may choose a more expensive plan because it offers better customer service or has a higher Medicare star rating, or because they may be willing to spend a little more for peace of mind in case their medication needs unexpectantly increase.

So how do you find the lowest-cost Part D plan that’s also the best fit for you?

As I’ve said in the past, you should look for a plan that offers the lowest total cost based on the medications you take.  When shopping for a plan, remember to consider the monthly premium and annual deductible as well as the annual costs for all your medications. Fortunately, those good people at Medicare have a great online tool called the Medicare Plan Finder that makes it easy for you to compare costs each year. Here’s what you do:

1. Go to Medicare.gov and click on “Find health & drug plans.”  (You’ll see this in a yellow box near the top left of the page.)  

2. Enter your zip code, and then answer the other questions. Make sure you choose one or two pharmacies that are near you, and specify all the drugs you take (and their dosage). You’ll also need to say whether you get your prescriptions filled at a retail or mail-order pharmacy.  Answering these questions is the only way the tool will give you accurate cost information for your personal drug needs.

3. On the search results page, click on “Prescription drug plans (with original Medicare)” to see a complete list of stand-alone Part D plans available in your area. You can also refine your search on this page.

4. The generated list will show the lowest-cost plan first, which includes monthly premiums as well as out-of-pocket costs for the drugs you selected. And because a cheap plan with a low star rating may end up costing you more in the end (more time, more aggravation, more worry, etc.),  you should also sort results by Overall Plan Rating to make sure the lowest-cost choices have a good star rating (3.5 or more stars). 

Remember, Medicare Open Enrollment is October 15 through December 7, 2012.

When to enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan

Today I spent the day monitoring phone calls from my company’s Medicare Part D plan enrollment call center. Several seniors who called to enroll in our plan said they were very confused about the Open Enrollment deadline, especially those people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.

To help clear up some of this confusion, here is some basic information about when you can enroll in a Part D plan or switch Part D plans. In a nutshell:

• Most people can enroll in a Part D plan when they first become eligible for Medicare and then once a year after that during Open Enrollment if they want to switch plans.
• People who receive both Medicare and Medicaid can enroll when they first become eligible and then once a month after that if they want to switch plans.

Enrolling for the first time: Turning 65 or new to Medicare

If you are new to Medicare, it’s important to enroll in a Part D plan as soon as you become eligible (during your Initial Enrollment Period) to avoid paying any late-enrollment penalties. When first eligible for Medicare, you have a full 7 months to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan:
• Up to 3 months before you turn 65
• During the month of your 65th birthday
• Up to 3 months after you turn 65

If you join a prescription drug plan during the 3 months before you turn 65, your coverage will start on the first day of your birth month. If you join during or after your birth month, your coverage will begin on the first day of the next month.

Here are 3 examples to show you when your coverage will go into effect:
Let’s assume your 65th birthday is May 3, 2012. That means your Initial Enrollment Period is from February 1 – August 31, 2012 (3 months before to 3 months after your 65th birthday).

1. If you join a Part D plan before your birth month (February 1 – April 30, 2012)
Your coverage will begin the first day of your birth month: May 1, 2012

2. If you join a Part D plan during your birth month (May 1 – May 31, 2012)
Your coverage will begin: June 1, 2012

3. If you join a Part D plan after your birth month (for example, July 1 – July 31, 2012)
Your coverage will begin: August 1, 2012

When you can switch Part D plans

If you are already enrolled in a Part D plan, you can generally switch plans only once a year during Open Enrollment (also called the Annual Election Period). Open Enrollment runs from October 15 through December 7 for the 2012 plan year. Outside this time period, you may make other changes during the year only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

For example, you may qualify for an SEP for the following reasons:
• You lose creditable coverage (that is, coverage as good as or better than Medicare) through no fault of your own  (for example, your former employer or union stops providing coverage for retirees)
• You move to a new permanent address that is not in your current plan’s service area
• Your current plan no longer offers Part D coverage
• You receive Medicaid or get Extra Help with Part D costs
• You are enrolled in a State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (SPAP)

Dual Eligibles can switch plans once a month

If you have both Medicare and Medicaid, you are considered a “dual eligible” individual. “Dual eligibles” may change plans once every thirty days. You can ignore the Open Enrollment dates and the December 7th deadline because they do not apply to you.

No “Oops” Allowed: 3 Facts to Remember About Medicare Part D Open Enrollment

In honor of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s most recent gaffe during the CNBC Republican presidential debate, I want to briefly review three questions about Medicare Part D Open Enrollment that seniors have often asked me. You don’t want to go “oops” when it comes to something as important as your health, so please remember the answers!
    
1. Do I have to re-enroll every year if I want to keep the same prescription drug plan?
No, if you are happy with your plan and it is meeting your needs, you do not need to do anything – your coverage will automatically continue each year. However, if your current plan has earned less than 4 stars from Medicare, or will no longer cover one or more of your medications in 2012, you should consider switching to another plan that is better suited for you.

It’s also a good idea to use the Medicare Plan Finder tool each year to make sure you’re not paying more than you have to for your prescription drugs. Recent studies show that seniors can save a few hundred dollars or more by doing some research and switching Medicare Part D plans.

2. My spouse and I use the same insurance company for our health coverage. Is it a good idea for us to enroll in the same prescription drug plan, too?
For most couples, it is not a good idea to choose the same Medicare Part D plan. Chances are you have different health needs and take different medications, so picking the same plan is usually not the best option.

For example, you may take only one generic medication, so your needs are minimal. Therefore, you would probably choose an inexpensive plan that has a low monthly premium but no extra bells and whistles. Your spouse may be taking several medications for a chronic condition such as diabetes or asthma, and therefore needs a plan that offers better coverage, a higher star rating, and a mail-order pharmacy for extra savings. It does not make sense for you to pay more for coverage you don’t need, or for your spouse to be enrolled in a plan that does not meet his or her prescription drug needs.

3. If I sign up for a Medicare Part D plan today, will my coverage start immediately?
When you join a Medicare plan during the Open Enrollment period, your new coverage will not begin until January 1st of the following year. So if you join a plan on November 15, 2011, your coverage will begin January 1, 2012. You will continue to be covered under your current prescription drug plan through December 31. You will be automatically disenrolled from your current plan as soon as your new coverage begins on January 1st.

And don’t forget: Open Enrollment ends early this year on December 7!

’Tis the season to shop: Seniors could save hundreds of dollars by switching Medicare Part D plans

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Save: Open Enrollment Ends December 7

Whether you’re a senior on Medicare, a caregiver for a Medicare beneficiary, or just helping your parents with their money matters, ’tis the season to go shopping. Even if you are satisfied with your current prescription drug plan, you could save a few hundred dollars or more by comparison shopping and choosing a plan that better meets your needs.

According to a recent survey of 71,000 people enrolled in Medicare prescription drug plans, 81 percent lowered their costs by an average of $298 by switching plans from 2006 to 2007. This number is promising, because it shows that even though Medicare Part D is complex and often confusing, seniors are using available tools and services to choose plans that cost them the least based on their prescription drug use.

Despite the results of this one survey, however, advocates like me still have a long way to go to convince Medicare beneficiaries that it’s a good idea to compare plans every year during the Open Enrollment period. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, only about 7 percent of the 17 million seniors on Medicare drug plans switch plans each year. Another survey conducted by KRC Research confirms CMS’s findings, with two out of three seniors stating they are unlikely to shop around for Med D plans. Medicare experts say this suggests that millions of beneficiaries could be paying more than they have to for prescription drug coverage.

Top 5 Reasons Why Seniors Don’t Make a Switch

According to senior advocates and insurance advisors, there are several reasons why people are hesitant about switching their drug plans:

1. Many believe that once they join a drug plan, they should stick with it long term, just as they stayed with the same private health insurance plan for many years before enrolling in Medicare.
2. A lot of seniors aren’t as aware as they should be of changes to the Part D benefit or of the opportunity to change plans during the Open Enrollment period.
3. With up to 30 or more drug plans on the market in each state, many seniors get overwhelmed or frightened at the thought of changing plans, even if another one would better suit their prescription drug needs and lower their costs.
4. Although Medicare’s easy-to-use Plan Finder tool allows beneficiaries to enter their medications to find a plan with the lowest overall annual costs, many seniors are uncomfortable going online or unable to use computers.
5. Many seniors are very satisfied with their current plan—even if it does cost more—and feel that “if it’s not broken, why fix it?”

Yes, shopping around and switching plans does take some time and can be a bit daunting.  But keep in mind these two good reasons for adding this annual task to your “to do” list:

• Medicare plans can and often do make annual changes to their offerings or formulary (list of covered drugs), which can increase drug costs by thousands of dollars, or make it more difficult for you to get certain drugs.
• If your drug needs have changed since you last enrolled in a Part D plan, your current plan may not be meeting all of your needs.

Remember, the Medicare Part D open enrollment season, which began October 15, continues only through December 7. If you need more information on Medicare Part D coverage, visit the Medicare website or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

28% of #Medicare #partD plans receive poor star ratings from CMS

You probably wouldn’t choose a 2-star restaurant or a resort hotel that has only earned 3 out of 5 stars. You shouldn’t choose a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan with low star ratings, either. And for pretty much the same reason: Low star ratings mean lower quality and poor customer service.

Each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rates how well health plans and prescription drug plans perform in different categories, such as customer service, prescription drug safety, and member satisfaction. The Medicare star ratings are important because they help you compare the overall quality of plans. Star ratings range from 1 star (poor) to 5 stars (excellent), so look for a plan with high ratings (4 or 5) to ensure you get the level of service and safety you deserve.

Now here’s the catch (there’s always a catch with Medicare!). This year, 28 percent of rated prescription drug plans (PDPs) that will be available in 2012 scored poorly (fewer than 3 stars). No national PDPs received a perfect 5-star rating this year, and one only national PDP—Medco Medicare Prescription Plan—received 4 stars. Although a few smaller, regional plans did receive 5 stars, the chance that one of these plans is in your region and meets your needs is very slim. 

The good news for beneficiaries is that CMS is telling these poor-performing plans that unless they take steps to improve their performance over the next few years, they face losing their Medicare sponsor status.

One of the main reasons that many plans’ ratings fell from last year is a shift in the way CMS rates Medicare drug plans. This year, the criteria changed to focus more on clinical outcomes, such as whether patients with diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol are taking their medications as directed by their doctors.  Although some plans do have very effective medication management tools in place—such as pharmacist outreach calls—it’s not an easy or inexpensive task for plans to ensure their members are following doctor’s orders and taking their drugs as prescribed.

Like last year, the ratings also consider member experience, such as how long a patient is kept on hold when calling the plan, the number of complaints lodged against plans, and the number of people who choose to leave plans.

How does your state rate?

On a national level, 24 percent of the 557 rated drug plans get the top ratings of four or five stars, and about half fall in the middle with three stars. Another 28 percent score below three stars. From Kaiser Health News, here is the percentage of rated Part D plans in each state that get fewer than 3 stars on a scale of 1-5.:

Alabama 50%
Alaska 40%
American Samoa 0%
Arizona 48%
Arkansas 47%
California 42%
Colorado 46%
Connecticut 43%
Delaware 42%
Florida 42%
Georgia 47%
Guam 0%
Hawaii 40%
Idaho 40%
Illinois 44%
Indiana 48%
Iowa 42%
Kansas 39%
Kentucky 48%
Louisiana 50%
Maine 46%
Maryland 42%
Massachusetts 43%
Michigan 44%
Minnesota 42%
Mississippi 47%
Missouri 50%
Montana 42%
Nebraska 42%
Nevada 48%
New Hampshire 46%
New Jersey 43%
New Mexico 43%
New York 31%
North Carolina 43%
North Dakota 42%
Northern Mariana Islands 0%
Ohio 48%
Oklahoma 43%
Oregon 40%
Pennsylvania 39%
Puerto Rico 81%
Rhode Island 43%
South Carolina 53%
South Dakota 42%
Tennessee 50%
Texas 42%
Utah 39%
Vermont 43%
Virgin Islands 0%
Virginia 50%
Washington 40%
Washington D.C. 42%
West Virginia 39%
Wisconsin 45%
Wyoming 42%

New online tool available for comparing Medicare Part D plans

Although I always promote use of Medicare’s Plan Finder Tool during Open Enrollment to help you find the right Medicare Part D plan, today I came across another handy prescription drug plan search tool on the Q1Medicare website. This tool gives Medicare beneficiaries a chance to review all of the different Part D plans available for 2012 for their areas quickly and easily. Plus, it has advanced options to help you further refine your search.

What is the maximum you want to pay?

One of the best features of this tool is the option to limit your search by the maximum monthly premium, annual deductible, and co-payment for generic drugs you want to pay. For example, if you don’t want to pay any more than $50 a month for your premium, you can enter this amount and eliminate all the plans that are out of your budget. You can also select the type of coverage you need in the Coverage Gap (aka, donut hill), such as no coverage at all or coverage for generic drugs.

The tool also allows you to get other information about the plans, such as which plans offer mail service, how many people nationwide (or in your state) are members of the plan, and the number of drugs covered on the plan’s formulary (list of covered drugs). You can also ask the tool to display plans by premium (lowest to highest or vice versa), star ratings, state enrollment, or plan name.    

Remember, Open Enrollment ends early this year – December 7th.  So to avoid a last-minute rush—especially smack in between Thanksgiving and the winter holidays—consider doing your homework now. This new plan comparison tool is a great place to start.

Always Read the Fine Print When Comparing Medicare Part D Plans

On Tuesday, drugstore operator Rite Aid Corp. joined the prescription drug plan bandwagon by introducing a new Part D plan through a partnership with Envision Insurance. This announcement follows closely on the heels of new plans from CVS Caremark Corp. and Walgreens Co.—both introduced this month–and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which launched its plan with Humana last year.

Like Humana has done with its low-cost Walmart-Preferred Rx Plan, big chains such as Rite Aid and Walgreens are trying to lure seniors into their plans by advertising either low monthly premiums, low co-payments, or even $0 co-payments for generic drugs. One of the reasons they can charge such low prices is because it’s a great way to fill as many prescriptions as possible and get more shoppers into their stores to buy other products.

The catch for the consumer, though—of course there’s a catch—is that these drugstore-sponsored plans have highly restrictive pharmacy networks. If you purchase your drugs from a pharmacy that is not in the network, you will more than likely have to pay more than what is advertised in the large print.

A $10 co-payment is not the same as a $1 co-payment.

For example, if you go to the website for Humana’s Walmart-Preferred Rx Plan, you will see that the plan offers a $1 co-payment for preferred generics. However, read the fine print, and you’ll discover that in order to pay only $1, you have to use a preferred pharmacy, which includes, surprise, surprise, pharmacies at Walmart, Walmart Express, Sam’s Club, and Walmart Neighborhood Market. The price jumps to $10 if you use any other pharmacy in the restricted network. For preferred brand-name drugs, you’ll pay a 20% coinsurance if you use a Walmart pharmacy, but almost double (37%) anywhere else within the network.

How close is a large chain pharmacy to your home?

Last year, despite my objections, a family member enrolled in the Humana plan. She loved the low monthly premium, but she hated that she would have to use a Walmart pharmacy to get the best prices for her medications. The closest Walmart is about 25 minutes from her home, so not only does she have to pay extra for gas, but it takes her more than an hour to get there and back by the time she parks and waits on line. (I’m still trying to convince her to switch to the mail-order pharmacy!)

The moral of this story is two-fold: Always read the fine print whenever you are comparing prescription drug plans, and make sure that your local or favorite pharmacy is a preferred pharmacy in the plan’s network. Large, national prescription drug plans from companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medco, or Wellcare may have higher premiums, but if you prefer using a smaller retail pharmacy in your hometown, your total costs may even out in the end.

Reminder: Open Enrollment is now through December 7, 2011.

Why It’s Important to Talk to a Real Person When Comparing Medicare Part D Plans

It recently came to my attention that the Plan Finder Tool on the Medicare website has a few database glitches, resulting in wrong pricing information for some health and prescription drug plans.

For example, one national Part D plan discovered last week that the pricing information for specialty drugs was incorrect when visitors to the website searched to find out how much their drugs would cost with this plan. I also heard from an insurance broker in Arizona, who told me she was also experiencing pricing errors while doing searches for her clients.

For years I have been telling Medicare beneficiaries that it is crucial to confirm the cost of your drugs each year during Open Enrollment. Medicare Part D plans can (and often do) raise co-payments or move drugs from lower-priced tiers to higher-priced tiers. So just because you are paying $10 for a drug right now doesn’t mean it will still be $10 in 2012.

That’s why even if you’re very pleased with the plan you have this year, you really should check the prices on all the medications you are taking for next year. I know it’s a major pain in the you know what–and one of the main reasons we all love to hate Medicare Part D–but by not taking the time to do this due diligence every year, you could be spending a lot of money than necessary.

Use Plan Finder as a Starting Point Only

So now we get back to my original topic. One of the online tools I always talk about is Medicare’s Plan Finder. Although I still highly recommend this site as a starting point for searching and comparing plans, the data glitches has me worried, because many seniors may be getting misleading information. Can you imagine thinking your drug is going to cost $50 a month with the XYZ Plan (based on the Plan Finder website), only to find out in January that it really costs $150 a month?!

Technology is a wonderful thing, and it has certainly made our lives easier. But when it comes to something as important as pricing your prescription drugs, my advice is to do it the old-fashioned way. Use Plan Finder or the plan’s website as a starting point, but then call your plan (or the new plan that you’re interested in joining) and speak to a real person. It may take longer to have the customer service representative look up each drug for you, but for peace of mind it’s well worth it.

Always Keep Records

Finally, when you do speak to the plan representatives on the phone, take careful notes and keep these notes in a safe place. For example, take note of the date and time you called, the representative’s name, and the specific dollar amounts that he or she provides for each of your medications. That way if there is a pricing error and you are charged more than you were told, you have all the necessary paperwork to argue your case. If you’re also using a website to get your medications costs, make sure to print out the pages and keep them safe with your records.

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