Monday, December 12, 2005

Medicare Drug Plans: Online Help

The government has set up an online "Plan Finder" tool to help Medicare recipients make the best choice for their prescription drug plan.

Go to and click on "Compare Medicare Prescription Drug Plans" to access it.

AARP (Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons) has a brief article in its December Bulletin that assesses the Plan Finder: Savings Are in the Details.

The Plan Finder is designed to display the exact cost to you of drugs you regularly take - under plans which fit the parameters you enter. So before you begin, make a list of these parameters. AARP recommends they include:
  • Your Medicare claim number, birth date, and zip code.
  • A list of the prescription drugs you take now and their dosages.
  • Your choice between plans that offer only drug coverage (e.g. "stand alone" Medicare Prescription Drug Plans) or both medical care and drug coverage (e.g. Medicare Advantage Plans)
  • The maximum you're willing to pay for monthly premiums and/or annual deductibles. (If you have limited income, you may not have to pay a premium or deductible.)
AARP's article describes these and other parameters in more detail.

You have until December 31 to enroll in a plan to start coverage on January 1.
You have until May 15 to get coverage in 2006.
You can even change your mind. From AARP:
"If you've already signed up for a plan and find another you prefer, you can switch before May 15. Enrolling in a second plan will automatically cancel your enrollment in the first."