Turning 65 this fall? Hold off on enrolling in Part D.

I’ve been talking to a number of people who are turning 65 in November and December. Most of them want to get a Medicare supplement and then a stand-alone Part D plan. But I’m not sure what Part D plan to recommend for them because a plan that works for them this year might not be as good in 2014.

Information on how each Part D plan will change for 2014 will not be available until October 1st.  So I’ve told my clients, whose Medicare begins in November or December, that they should wait a bit to enroll in a Part D plan until I can get info on the changes.

In 2013 there are 24 Part D  plans available in Arizona.  The lowest-priced Part D plan is $18.50 per month and the most expensive plan is $99.70. Lower-priced plans usually have a $325 deductible, but even some plans that cost over $30 per month have a deductible.  Medicare.gov will list the plans from least expensive to most expensive if you put your prescriptions into the Plan Finder.

Last year, the plan that often came up as #1 on the Medicare Plan Finder was around $25 per month and had no deductible. This year that plan is over $32 and has a $150 deductible.

This year, the plan that usually comes up #1 has no deductible, and generics have no co-pay if they are purchased at a “preferred pharmacy”.  I don’t represent this plan, but I’ve told quite a few clients to check it out. But I have no idea if this plan will be as good in 2014.

For people who turn 65 in September through December, they could find themselves enrolling in a plan that sounds good now, but changes significantly in January.  I have to tell people they will receive a welcome packet for their Part D plan…  and then they will receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) that might have some significant news about changes to the plan.  And the changes might require them to turn right around and start shopping for another Part D plan. I hope this is not the case, but they need to be sure to read the ANOC to find out if they should keep their plan for 2014.

CLARIFICATION:  I’m not suggesting a person turning 65 in November or December should wait until January to enroll in a Part D plan. I am suggesting they wait until October 1st when info on 2014 plans will be available on Medicare.gov.  Then they can pick a plan that will work for them this year as well as next year.

Most people can only change their Part D plan during the Open Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7). They apply for a new plan during the Open Enrollment Period that takes effect on January 1st.  

Last fall I wrote about  a study by Health Affairs, that found only 5.2% of seniors were enrolled in the most economical Part D plan available to them.

I think people should be able to enroll in a plan and not have to worry about it changing from year-to-year, but that’s not how Part D works.

For a thorough understanding of how Part D works, take a look at a video I have prepared: Part D and the Donut Hole

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