How to Choose a Medicare Part D Plan

1.

Make a list of your prescription medications or gather them all together. Make sure you have the name of the medication, the dosage you are taking and the frequency with which you take the medication. The Medicare Part D drug plans all have different formularies, or lists of drugs they cover and all charge different amounts for the drugs. As a result, the specific combination of drugs that you take will determine which plan is best for you.

2.

Go online to Medicare.gov. At Medicare.gov there is a link on the first page called "Health and Drug Plans." Follow this link to find and compare drug plans, answering the questions as you go along. Once you have finished entering all of your drugs and the dosages, you will continue until you get to the list of plans available to you. They will be ranked in order of total annual cost, which includes the monthly premium as well as the cost of your prescriptions.

3.

If you aren't taking any medications, instead of choosing "Enter My Drugs" at that point in the Drug Plan Finder choose "Continue to Plan List." The plans will be sorted by monthly premium, so the least expensive plans will be at the top of the list. Because there are no prescriptions to compare across plans, you can choose based on the monthly premium or choose a provider with whom you feel comfortable working.

4.

Review the details of the lowest cost plans. You have determined which is the lowest cost plan with the drug plan finder, but there may be other factors to take into account. Some plans will have a deductible and others won't, and with some plans you may trade off a higher monthly premium for lower generic drug costs. You may find, too, that some plans require step therapy or prior authorization for some of your medications. All of these factors should figure into your decision. Customer satisfaction ratings are also provided for each company, which may impact your feeling about one company over another.

5.

Choose a provider from the list you've generated. It is up to you which provider you choose and there are likely to be dozens of plans to choose from in your state. You can base your choice on cost alone, on personal experience you may have with a company or on the details of their coverage of your prescriptions. Whatever your criteria, you want to be comfortable with the choice you make. Keep in mind, though, that you have the opportunity to review your drug plan and switch to a different one each year during the Medicare Part D open enrollment period, from November 15 through December 31.

Medicare Part D began in 2006 as a way to help those on Medicare pay for prescription drugs. Whether or not you take any prescription medications and what medications you take will determine which plan is the best for you. The Medicare website has a prescription drug plan finder that is the most convenient way to choose a plan.