Only 13 percent of people with Medicare Part D plans change their drug plans each year (on average). Relatively few people on Medicare have used the annual open enrollment period from October 15 to December 7 to switch Part D prescription drug plans. Yet in Iowa, 50 percent of the people who received help from the state of Iowa’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) changed plans for 2016 and had combined savings over $16 million. If you’re not doing an annual check of your Part D coverage, you could be missing big savings.
Every year by September 30, people with Part D plans receive the “Annual Notice of Change,” sent out by plans to explain changes to the formulary (drugs covered), benefits, and costs. This is your first chance to review your coverage. You should also do a comparison of Part D plans to see if another plan would provide you better coverage at a lower cost for 2017.
If you would like help doing a comparison of plans, contact SHIIP. In one hour or less a SHIIP counselor can complete a review, let you know if you can save money, and make sure you have access to the drugs you need in 2017. In the GRMC service area, you may call 641-236-2588, or the state office at 1-800-351-4664, to find the SHIIP site nearest you. SHIIP’s services are free, confidential, and objective. Any change you make will be effective January 1, 2017.
Kris Gross from SHIIP, says, “We’re asking everyone to remind family, friends, and neighbors about these important dates. We don’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to make their choice of plans for 2017.”
The 2017 Medicare drug plans will be available on the Medicare website, www.medicare.gov, on October 1. Plans not renewing their contract with Medicare for 2017 must notify their members by October 2. “Notices of Creditable Coverage” are also due October 15. This is a notice from employer/union and other group health plans which tell Medicare eligible enrollees if their drug coverage will be “as good as or better than Medicare’s coverage” in 2017.