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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released information about the Medicare Part D stand-alone prescription drug plans (PDPs) for 2015. Approximately 61 percent of the beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part D (23.2 million beneficiaries) are currently enrolled in PDPs.
The information released by CMS indicated that in 2015, there will be 1,001 stand-alone PDPs available nationwide. This is fewer than in any year since Part D began in 2006. Also, the average premium (weighted by 2014 plan enrollment) is expected to increase by 4 percent across all PDPs from 2014 to 2015, from $37.27 to $38.83 per month. Enrollees in six of the 10 most popular PDPs will experience double-digit premium increases if they stay in the same plans in 2015. Conversely, enrollees in three of the most popular PDPs will see double-digit premium decreases.
If you currently have Medicare Hospital or Medicare Medical Insurance (Medicare Parts A and/or B), you can enroll or re-enroll in a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan or Medicare Advantage Plan with Prescription Coverage starting on October 15 through December 7, 2014. This period is called the Annual Coordinated Election Period, and any Medicare Part D plan you choose during this time will begin on January 1, 2015.
If you turn 65 years old or become eligible for Medicare outside of the Annual Coordinated Election Period, there is a seven (7) month window in which you can enroll in the 2015 plan and avoid any penalties.
If you already have a Medicare Part D plan, then this is your opportunity to look back over the past year and decide whether you want to stick with the same coverage for next year or make a change. If you make no decision, you will remain in the same plan as you elected in 2014. No enrollment is required to renew your present coverage. However, if you are not currently enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan, and do not enroll during this period, your next chance for coverage is January 2016.
A careful review of your current Medicare Part D plan or private Medicare Advantage plan may uncover important information, like increasing co-payments, limitation of certain services, or loss drug coverage. It is even more important to consider your options if you have developed health issues or have been prescribed new medications since last year.
By Eric J. Einhart – Guest Blogger