(BPT) - About 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day and by 2050, seniors will represent more than 20% of the population.[i] If you are 65 or older, staying healthy is more important than ever. One step includes picking a Medicare prescription drug plan during Open Enrollment, which began Oct. 15.
If you pay out-of-pocket for your prescription drugs, a Medicare prescription drug plan may help save money. Each plan provides a list of covered medications, which is available through the plan's website and customer service center.
With the right tools and a trusted partner to provide guidance, it can be a simple process. Read the following tips to help pick a plan:
#1: Consider a stand-alone or combination plan.
In addition to examining out-of-pocket costs and what your plan covers, a good place to start when considering your options is to research a Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) and Medicare Advantage Prescription Plan (MAPD). A PDP is a stand-alone plan that only covers prescription drugs. A MAPD combines Part A (hospital insurance), Part B (medical insurance) and usually Part D (prescription drug) into a single plan.[ii]
#2: Evaluate the plan each year.
Your Medicare prescription drug plan benefits can change yearly, including prescription drug coverage, premiums, deductibles and pharmacy benefits. Even if you’re keeping your plan, it’s important to evaluate if it continues to fit your needs. And for the six in 10 Americans living with at least one chronic condition[iii] that may require multiple daily medications, having a plan with minimal copays can be critical. Talking to an independent insurance broker can help assess your individual needs. Walgreens has teamed up with eHealth*, an independent, fully licensed health insurance broker offering free, personalized advice with no obligation to enroll. People found an average savings of $710 annually when using eHealth.[iv]
#3: Ensure your selected plan works with your preferred pharmacy.
Check if your pharmacy of choice is in the plan’s preferred network to save on copay costs. Pharmacists also understand individual medication needs to help you navigate your Medicare prescription drug plan options.
Pharmacists play a pivotal role in communities, and in these times, are highly accessible resources to ask health-related questions. Walgreens pharmacists have stepped up in incredible ways to support people throughout the pandemic, whether it’s spending additional time over the phone to address questions or combining prescription refills to fit busy schedules and reduce trips to the pharmacy.
#4: Explore ways to lower costs at the pharmacy.
Check whether your brand-name prescription has a generic alternative, and then talk with your doctor to see if this would be a good option for you. If your brand-name prescription doesn’t have a generic alternative, there may be lower-cost brand-name prescriptions used to treat the same condition. Ask your pharmacist, and then talk with your doctor to see if switching brands makes sense in your situation.
Open Enrollment for Medicare began on Oct. 15 nationwide. As a pharmacy that people know and trust, Walgreens has a number of tools available in store and online to help you research what prescription drug plan works for you and your loved ones. Visit Walgreens.com/medd to learn more and get started. To talk with an eHealth licensed insurance broker, call 1-844-973-1713 TTY users 711 or visit ehealthmedicare.com/Walgreens.
*eHealth is a licensed insurance broker. No commissions are paid to Walgreens. No obligation to enroll.
[i] The Aging Readiness & Competitiveness Report. AARP International. https://arc.aarpinternational.org/File%20Library/Full%20Reports/ARC-Report---United-States.pdf
[ii] How do Medicare Advantage Plans work? Medicare.gov. https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/types-of-medicare-health-plans/medicare-advantage-plans/how-do-medicare-advantage-plans-work
[iv] eHealth's Medicare Choice and Impact report examines user sessions from more than 111,000 eHealth Medicare visitors who used the company's Medicare prescription drug coverage comparison tool in the fourth quarter of 2019, including Medicare's 2020 Annual Election Period (October 15 – December 7, 2019).