It's Medicare enrollment time, and whether it's your first time signing up, you're already enrolled but need to reevaluate your plan, or are looking at plans for an elderly parent, you should do some research. We asked Alexis Abramson, Phd, author of The Caregiver's Survival Handbook, for some advice on choosing a Medicare Part D plan. Here are her tips:
- "Know that you're not automatically enrolled when you turn 65." If you turn 65 next year you should sign up by December 7, 2012—if you miss that date there will be a penalty attached.
- "Even if you don't take prescription drugs at the moment, you should still sign up for Part D." You never know what could change with your health in the coming year, and it's better to be covered. Abramson says you should consider, "what's happening genetically—does my parent or grandparent have chronic diseases they might pass on to me?"
- "It's really important that you re-evaulate your your Part D plan every single year." Plans change from year to year, and that plan that's served you well in the past might not be the best one for you going forward.
- "Pay attention to whether your local pharmacy is 'preferred' by the Medicare Part D Plan you're considering." Preferred pharmacies will offer covered drugs at lower out-of-pocket costs than what a non-preferred pharmacy would. Abramson is a spokesperson for Walmart and points out that Walmart is a preferred pharmacy on many plans, including the Humana-Walmart Preferred Rx Plan. Walmart also allows you to order prescription drugs online once you are set up in the system.
For more information on how to sign up for Medicare, visit Medicare.gov, where you can type in your zip code and the prescription drugs you typically take to get a list of Medicare Part D Plans that would work for you. Or you can call 800-633-4227 and ask a real, live person your Medicare enrollment questions.
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