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Medicare beneficiaries on the Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) have the opportunity to change plans each year during the Open Enrollment period between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7. This is important because the cost of drug coverage offered by private insurance companies can vary by hundreds of dollars, and the plan that was best for you last year may no long be the most economical choice.
To evaluate plans, be sure to look at the total cost – not just the premium. Total cost is made up of 1) the monthly premium cost; 2) the deductible or cost that must be paid before the insurance pays anything; 3) the co-pay or amount you pay each time you fill a prescription. The co-pay will vary depending on the individual medication. The best way to evaluate the total cost is to use the Medicare “Plan Finder” on the Internet at www.medicare.gov. You will enter your individual prescriptions and get a total cost based on the specific drugs you take. (The Plan Finder website is not associated with the Affordable Care Act website, and there are no wait times.)
If you don’t have access to the Internet-or a computer savvy grandchild available to help-you can call the Wisconsin Medigap Part D and Prescription Drug Helpline at 1-855-677-2783 for assistance in finding the best plan for you.
Companies must follow rules in marketing plans
To protect seniors from aggressive sales techniques, Medicare has strict rules that companies marketing Medicare Plans must follow. You’ll want to be aware that insurance companies selling Medicare Plans:
• CAN’T call or email you unless you have first called them to give them permission to contact you. There is one exception to this rule. If you are currently on a plan, that company is allowed to contact you.
• CAN’T ask for financial or personal information.
• CAN’T visit you at your home or a nursing home unless you have invited them.
• CAN’T give you gifts or prizes worth more than $15 in an effort to get you to enroll in a plan.
• CAN’T try to sell life insurance when you’ve invited them to talk about a Medicare Plan.
If you experience unwanted solicitations or violations of marketing rules, please report them to Elizabeth Conrad, Wisconsin Senior Medicare Patrol Director at 1-800-488-2596, ext. 317.