Should You Get a New Medicare Part D Plan During Open Enrollment? Here’s How to Know

(Maurie Backman)

Health care is usually a significant expense for retirees. And for some seniors, the cost of medication can be exceptionally onerous.

That’s why choosing the right Medicare Part D plan is so important. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, that plan should cover your prescription needs. However, if you are enrolled in original Medicare (Parts A and B), you will need separate Part D drug coverage.

Meanwhile, Medicare’s annual fall enrollment open period just started on October 15 and runs through December 7. During this time, existing participants will have the opportunity to make changes to their coverage. And you may want to make a change to your Part D plan if these circumstances apply to you.

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1. Your plan has changed

At this point, you should have received a notification from your Part D plan administrator informing you of any changes to your plan scheduled to take place in 2023. If your plan changes for the better, great – stick with it. But when it changes for the worse, that’s a sign you might want to switch plans.

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How could your plan change for the worse? Part D plans have formularies that group recipes into different levels. If the drugs you take are bumped into a higher tier for 2023, you could end up charging more expensive co-payments. And if your income is limited — let’s say you live mostly off Social Security — that could prove problematic. Therefore, a change might be appropriate.

2. Your needs have changed

Perhaps your Part D plan will remain the same for 2023. But if your needs change, that alone should prompt you to look at other plans. You might stop one drug and start another, or switch from a brand-name drug to a generic one. You should compare your costs among different Part D plans to see what makes the most financial sense.

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3. There are savings to be had

Maybe your Part D plan won’t change in 2023, and maybe your prescription regimen will stay exactly the same. That doesn’t mean a new plan won’t benefit you. There may simply be a cheaper Part D than the one you’re on right now, so it’s worth doing some digging.

The good news is that Medicare has a plan finder tool on its website that you can use for both Part D and Advantage plans. Better yet, listed plans have ratings so you can see how happy their participants are.

Set yourself up with the right coverage for 2023

Health care can be one of your biggest retirement expenses, so it’s important to do what you can to reduce it. By exploring your Part D plan options during open enrollment, you may be able to lower your costs while gaining access to a more convenient network of pharmacies that makes it easier to get your hands on the prescriptions you need.

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