Signing Up for a Medicare Part D Drug Plan Is Easy
By Michael Sams
Hey there! I’m Michael Sams here at Sams/Hockaday, and I’m very excited to share one of the most challenging parts about going onto Medicare – how to run your own Medicare Part D comparison. We’ll also go over why it is so important to do so.
In my humble opinion, there is only one way to run a Medicare Part D comparison correctly, and that is to utilize Medicare's website. It can be intimidating at first, but I'll help you navigate through the site to show you just how easy it really is to run your own comparison from your computer.
Don’t Trust Drug Company Flyers or Mailers
One of the things I want to highlight is the fact that many people receive flyers in the mail right before they’re enrolled in Medicare or during the Annual Enrollment Period between October 15th and December 7th.
You get this beautiful looking flyer in your hands, and you want to select a plan off of it. The premium looks affordable, the deductibles are in line, you think that they're going to cover all your drugs because they either did last year or it looks like they will.
Here’s the thing: we can't just blindly pick a Medicare Part D drug plan based off of this flyer that you've received in the mail. You need to verify that it’s the best fit for you by checking via the Medicare website.
Don’t Pick a Plan Because Your Friends or Family Loves It
A common problem that I run into is people talk to friends, family, and neighbors, and they offer advice on what plan is the best.
They may say their current plan is the best, and it certainly may be the best one for them. However, the drugs that they take may not be the same drugs you take. Additionally, you may not be going to the same pharmacy they go to.
You can't just follow your friend, family, or neighbor’s advice because everyone’s circumstance is different, which means the best drug plan for you may not be the same as theirs.
How to Sign Up for Medicare Part D
This can be broken down into four easy steps:
- Go to Medicare.gov
- Enter in your zip code
- Enter in your your prescriptions
- Enter in your pharmacy
When you add in those things, it will automatically calculate all of your options for Medicare Part D in order according to cost.
Step 1: Utilize Medicare’s Plan Finder Tool
Here we go!
Medicare.gov is the first place we're going to begin, and as soon as we get there, we want to click on the Plan Finder tool. As of October 2019, Medicare has updated this system, so you might see a prompt to "Try It Now" or to "Preview 2020 Health & Drug Plans." After October 15, this will change to say something like "Sign Up" or "Choose Plans."
Once we click on that, it's going to take us to the next screen.
Step 2: Create an Account or Continue Without Logging In
You can continue without logging in, but the advantage of Creating an Account is storing your drug list for the next year. If you're open to it, we recommend creating an account now to save you time in the future. You also get other perks, like viewing your Medicare claims and always being able to see what plans you have.
After that, you'll select “View plans. I know what type of plan I want.” Then, select “Drug plan (Part D).”
Follow the remaining prompts including zip code, your Medicare # (not required), date of birth, and whether or not you get financial aid. Click Next.
Step 3: Select Your Search Preferences
Select “Yes” under “Do you want to see your drug costs...?
Select “Both” under “How do you normally fill your prescriptions?” Choosing both allows you to see pricing for retail and mail order pharmacies.
Tip: Most Part D plans have partnered up with a retail pharmacy. This is called their "preferred pharmacy." You'll get better pricing if you choose a plan's preferred pharmacy.
Step 4: Enter your prescriptions
Enter all of your drugs, including dosage and frequencies.
When finished, click “Next.”
Step 5: Select Your Pharmacies
Select up to 2 pharmacies. This will allow you to compare pricing.
Remember that many drug plans have a preferred pharmacy, so it's to your advantage to choose up to 2 retail pharmacies. This will help you decide which pharmacy has the least expensive copays.
Tip: Not seeing the pharmacy you want? Click "Change location" and adjust until you find the pharmacy you're looking for.
Step 6: Sort Your Results
Sort plans by Lowest drug + premium cost. This sorts all of the plan options so you can easily see which plan is the least expensive for you.
There you go! Your least expensive plan option is going to show up first in the results. If you don't like that company or you want to view other plans, you can always look at the next few in the list. Just remember that the first option is your cheapest overall plan for the year.
Using our example of taking lisinopril and simvastatin, here are the top two least expensive drug plans in Macon County for 2020:
Should I switch Medicare Part D plans?
When people get to the plan results, they sometimes say, “Holy cow! I have 27 plans… how do I know which one's the best?”
Your best option that's going to save you the most money is the plan with the lowest annual cost. To find that plan, you'll just sort by Lowest drug + premium cost like we mentioned earlier.
After I've selected that plan, and know that it's going to work for me, I can simply hit the “Enroll” button.
Then, you enter your name, date of birth, social, address, and all of that kind of information. You will then be enrolled directly in that plan in about 3 minutes. It's very quick, very clean, and very easy.
I hope this is helpful! We want to be a huge support and a huge backup for you, but I'm encouraging you to go ahead and go to Medicare.gov, navigate these steps that we have shown you, and if you have questions, feel free to reach out!
Get Your Medicare Part D Cheat Sheet
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