5 Mistakes to Avoid When Picking a Medicare Part D Plan

Copyright © 2014 AARP. All rights reserved.

Medicare advises people who are choosing a Medicare prescription drug plan to consider the three Cs: cost, coverage, and convenience. That’s perfectly true. But you should add three more Cs: compare, compare, compare! And even a fourth: Do it carefully!

It can’t be emphasized enough: Comparing plans carefully is the single most important step you can take in finding the Part D plan that’s best for you. It may save you unexpected hassle and will certainly save you money.

“Well, yeah,” you say. “But what about the fact that I’m faced with more than 25 drug plans in my state? And they’re all different!” The number of plans available to you makes choosing just one — let alone the right one — seem like a daunting prospect. But take heart; you don’t have to grope your way through that multitude of plans.

Here's why comparing plans properly is better than the less-than-ideal alternatives you may be considering. There are ways to get organized so that you’re all ready to go when you start the actual process of comparing plans and choosing one.

Unfortunately, people use so many poor ways of choosing:

  • Picking the same plan as your spouse, best friend, neighbor, or second cousin: These people aren’t you! They don’t necessarily take the same prescription drugs or want the same things out of a plan as you.

  • Choosing the plan with the lowest premium in your area: Unless you don’t take any drugs right now, premiums are far less important than co-pays in adding to your expenses under any plan.

  • Agreeing to enroll in a plan that a sales agent pitches you at a shopping mall, pharmacy, senior center, or anywhere else: Agents talk up the plans they’re paid to sell, often without a thought to your personal needs or preferences.

  • Picking a plan from the marketing brochures that plans send to your home: These mailings are advertising materials designed to make a sale, again without regard to your own circumstances and needs.

  • Deciding on the plan with the most familiar name: It won’t necessarily provide you with the deal that’s best for you.

Using any of these methods to choose a plan isn’t much better than closing your eyes and jabbing a pin in a list because none of them accounts for the prescription drugs you take. Your own set of drugs — down to the exact dosage of each and how often you take them — is the most important factor in picking the plan that’s right for you. It’s the essential key to choosing wisely.

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