If you're enrolled in original Medicare, you'll need a Part D plan to cover your prescription needs. Part D plans vary in coverage and cost, and choosing one can be difficult, so if you've been on the same plan for quite some time, you may be inclined to retain your coverage rather than search for a better plan during fall open enrollment. But sticking with the same Part D plan without exploring your options could end up costing you. Here are three signs that it pays to find yourself a new Part D plan this year.
1. Your plan is changing unfavorably
Just because your Part D plan offered certain coverage this year doesn't mean that will hold true going into 2021. All Part D plans have a formulary that groups different prescriptions into different tiers. The lower a tier your prescriptions fall into, the less money you pay for them. But Part D plan formularies can change from year to year, so it could be the case that the prescriptions you take will move from one tier to another, costing you more money. And if that's the case right now, then it could certainly pay to get yourself a different plan.
Each year, your Part D plan is required to issue a notice of change, which you should have by now. Read it thoroughly and see what's happening with your plan. If your prescriptions are being bumped into a higher tier, start looking at alternatives.
2. Your prescription needs have changed
The great thing about Medicare Part D plans is that you can choose one to fit your specific needs. And if your prescriptions are changing going into 2021, then it pays to see if there's a better plan for you.
It could be that you're paying a higher premium for your plan because it treats a specific medication you're on favorably. But if your doctor is taking you off that medication, then you may be able to switch to a plan with a lower premium.
3. You're paying for benefits you don't need
Paying more money for a Part D plan will sometimes save you money on co-pays -- enough money to make those higher premiums worth it. But if you're not saving all that much on co-pays at present, then it makes sense to seek out a lower-cost plan: one that could result in similar co-pays, but cheaper premiums.
Take advantage of open enrollment
There's a reason Medicare's open enrollment runs from Oct. 15 all the way through Dec. 7: that way, seniors get plenty of time to explore their coverage options and make the right choices. Chances are, your Part D premiums eat up a big chunk of your retirement income, so if you have the potential to lower them, it pays to do the legwork. Or, maybe you won't manage to lower your Part D premiums, but you will manage to slash your co-pays by choosing a better plan. Either way, the more research you do, the happier you're likely to be with your choice.