Quick Tips to Lower Drug Cost
Each year, when the Medicare Annual Election Period approaches, our mailboxes fill up with solicitations we are hit by thousands of television and radio ads. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation only 13% of Medicare beneficiaries choose to enroll in a new prescription drug plan each year. It seems that evaluating plans each year is an exhausting task.
When it comes to an annual review of Medicare drug plan costs, many people just let it slide possible costing them hundreds of dollars annually.
Taking the time to review your options, though, can result in significant savings on medication costs next year. Here’s some tried and true tips for analyzing your drug plan to see if savings for next year might exist. Lower your Medicare drug plan costs with these tips.
Consider Switching to the OTC Version of Your Medication
Each year there are prescription medications which the FDA approves for over the counter (OTC) sale. When this happens, some Part D drug plans may stop covering the prescribed version of the medication or the medication is move to a higher cost sharing tier.
Buying the OTC version of a medication also helps you keep your total Medicare drug plan costs down, so it can help some people to stay out of the coverage gap on their Part D plan, too.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan that include prescription drug coverage, check to see if they also have and OTC benefit which allows you to order certain over the counter medications and have shipped direct to your front door and no cost.
Take Advantage of your Annual Wellness Visit.
Make a list of your medications and come prepared to discuss each of them during your wellness visit. As a Medicare beneficiary you have the option of an annual wellness exam each year (at no cost). This is an excellent opportunity to review your medications and decide with your physician if there are possible less expensive alternatives.
Our suggestion is to plan your annual wellness visit ahead of the annual enrollment period, also referred to as open enrollment (Oct 15 – Dec 7) so your ready to co compare your options.
Use a Mail-Order Pharmacy
Most Medicare Part D plans and Medicare Advantage plan that include drug coverage offer a mail-order service. Most plans include a mail-order option, and some offer lower co-payments for prescriptions when compared to the copay at a brick and mortar pharmacy.
Along with savings, many of our clients enjoy the convenience of being able to get a 90-day supply of their medication versus the 30-day supply they would receive at a local walk-in pharmacy.
The main thing to keep in mind with mail-order is the time it will take to get your medications to your door. You can work with your mail-order pharmacy to make sure the timing is just right so that there is never a time between orders that you are left without medication. It is still a good idea to have a backup plan or know which local pharmacy is preferred by your plan.
Consider a Plan with a Deductible
While the idea of a deductible doesn’t sound fun, we find that many times a plan with a deductible works out to be cheaper annually. This is because plans with deductibles often have lower monthly premiums and sometimes lower co-pays on medications after the deductible. Some plans waive the deductible on generic drugs. If you have a combination of generic and a few brand name medications the deductible only applies to the brand name and typically the co-pays on the generic are less expensive.
A careful analysis of your medication list often will tell you whether a plan with an up-front deductible is the most cost effective.
Use a Preferred Pharmacy
Most plans these days use preferred pharmacy networks. You may be paying more for your drugs at non-preferred pharmacies without even realizing it your plan has a preferred network.
Example, if you pay $10 in a preferred pharmacy versus $20 in a non-preferred pharmacy each time you fill a 30-day supply of a medication, you are spending unnecessarily spending $120 year.
Taking an hour or two each fall to analyze where you can get the most savings will benefit you with extra cash in the long run.
Check you plan document to insure your getting the best value your plan has to offer.
Lastly, if you have a year where prescriptions are expensive, and you wind up in “Doughnut Hole” (Coverage Gap) remember that coverage Gap is closing.
Discounts for drugs in the gap will be deeper with each passing year, and eventually the gap will close entirely.
Here at Make Medicare Work, we help our existing policyholders with all of this. If you have your policy through our agency, don’t hesitate to reach out to for us help with a free analysis of your Part D. We’ll work to help you lower your Medicare drug plan costs.
Not a client? Our team would love to help you navigate the confusion of Medicare. Contact us today!