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Annual Medicare Update Could Save You Money

If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, your prescription drug plan probably just sent you a letter. In fact, they’re legally obligated to do so. You aren’t legally obligated to read it, but maybe you should, because depending on the information contained in that letter, ignoring it could be costing you money.

What is Medicare sending you in this letter? In short, it’s a list of upcoming changes to the Part D prescription drug and Part C Medicare Advantage plans. This change log must be delivered to you by September 30th, and its primary purpose is to inform beneficiaries of which medications will be covered by your Medicare benefits in the year to come. Why September 30th? Because the annual plan enrollment period (Oct. 15th to Dec. 7th) is about to begin, and it’s time to reevaluate your Medicare health insurance or other coverage.

This is a fantastic opportunity to save some money, but a shocking 87 percent of enrollees either aren’t aware of this opportunity or choose not to take advantage of it, but the truth is, they’re leaving money on the table. 46 percent of the people who do choose to switch their plans save at least 5 percent the following year, mostly on premiums.

The cost of Medicare has been slowly but surely dropping for several years now, and with no indication that this trend is ending, that pattern should continue into 2015. Avalere Health, a trusted research and consultation firm, predicts that the average Part D premium will drop from $39.88 to $38.95.

Even if you don’t apply for Medicare, there’s still money to be saved by examining your plan on a yearly basis. Medicare eligibility doesn’t change the fact that your healthcare provider has to stay competitive, and the 10 most popular plans fluctuate their pricing as much as 52 percent, making these options extremely low cost. Half of the top ten most popular plans have premiums under $30, bottoming out at Humana/Walmart Rx’s low premium of only $15.67.

“It’s an ongoing pricing game,” says Dan Mendelson, Avalere’s chief executive officer. “The plans always try to price as low as possible and below the market and then they are forced to increase premiums. It means that now, more than ever, people need to go out and shop and take a careful look at what they are paying.”

It’s also important to regularly explore new options. For instance, factors other than premiums are very important, especially deductibles and drug-specific coverage. First and foremost, make sure your specific medication is covered by the plans you examine, but once you’ve established that, embrace the fact that next year, there will be more zero-deductible plans than ever before.

As you can see, reevaluating your plan is one of the most important things you can do as a Medicare beneficiary. It can save you money, but most importantly, it allows you to verify that the plan you have is the right one for you. If you take a look at your plan annually, you’ll never be surprised by a change in coverage, and not only will you see the change coming, but you’ll have the opportunity to prepare yourself.

Have you ever reevaluated your plan? With this heads-up, will you be taking a look at your plan? Feel free to leave your thoughts and advice in the comments section!

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