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Why you should reconsider your Medicare Part D plan every year

Finance & Planning | Apr 14, 2016

Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage to seniors enrolled in Medicare, but not all plans are created equal. As explained on Medicare.gov, each Part D plan has its own list of drugs it covers. Sometimes, the same drug can cost different amounts under different plans, and what's more, your plan can change every single year. AARP explained that you should choose your Medicare Part D plan based on the coverage it provides for your specific medication. When that coverage changes, it may be time for you to change plans.

As a result, it is vital you do not select a Medicare Part D plan the first time you enroll in Medicare and then sit back, relax and never think about your coverage again. Instead, you need to be proactive. You should always take advantage of Medicare Part D's annual open enrollment period to determine if you would benefit from switching plans. Doing so could help you save big on prescription drug costs.

"Virtually any segment of your Part D plan can change each year."

How your plan might change each year
Virtually any segment of your Part D plan can change each year. Kiplinger explained it is possible the percentage of drug costs you'll have to shoulder will rise, and it is also possible you will experience a raise in your premium. Sometimes, a Medicare Part D plan might add preferred pharmacies to your coverage, meaning you can only pick up your drugs from specific locations to get discounts. If these locations are not convenient, you may not want to keep your coverage.

All of these constant changes mean it is especially important to comparison shop during the open enrollment period to make sure you are getting the best possible deal.

Change in your life that could affect your plan
U.S. News & World Report explained there are also changes that could occur in your own life that could make you want to switch plans. Let's say sometime during this past year you have switched medications. Even if your current Part D coverage stays the same, it may no longer be the best plan to cover you for this new drug. As expressed above, every Part D plan covers its own set of drugs at its own set of prices. If you have switched medication or believe you will switch in the near future, it may be time to find a plan that can best accommodate your new medical needs.

"Every Part D plan covers its own set of drugs at its own set of prices."

Ronald Kahan, doctor and author of "Medicare Demystified: A Physician Helps Save You Time, Money, and Frustration," spoke with U.S. News & World Report about what to do if open enrollment arrives and you are not sure if you will be changing medications. He said to do some research on whether there is a plan that both covers the cost of the drug you're taking now and the one you might take in the future.

When to change or add coverage
The Medicare Part D open enrollment period is between October 15 and December 7 of every year. This is the time to shop around and see if you can find better rates from a different plan. This period not only allows those enrolled in Part D to switch plans, but it also allows those who do not have Part D to enroll if they decide they want to add it to their coverage.

According to AARP, you should strongly consider enrolling in Medicare Part D even if you are not currently taking any prescription drugs. Doing so will ensure you are protected should anything happen to you in the future. Enrolling in Part D could save you thousands of dollars per month in drug costs if you suddenly become ill. If you are not taking any prescription drugs and have decided to enroll in Part D, AARP suggested selecting the plan with the lowest premium. Remember, you can always switch plans during the annual open enrollment period if you begin taking prescription drugs.