Part D Annual Premiums
Premiums for Part D plans will vary based on the insurance carrier. The average monthly premium for Medicare beneficiaries is $33.06.
Individuals with a higher income may pay a higher premium. The additional charge is called the income-related monthly adjustment amount. If the individual incurred a late enrollment penalty, that amount will also be added to the monthly premium.
There is financial assistance available to those with low incomes. Individuals must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for assistance.
Is Medicare Part D mandatory?
Individuals are not required to enroll in a Part D plan. However, delaying enrollment without other creditable coverage in place will cause the individual to incur late enrollment penalties. Once penalties have been applied, they will never be removed.
Even if an individual is not currently taking medications, it is best to enroll in a Part D plan as soon as they are eligible. There are very low-cost plans available for those who take no medications.
Preferred Pharmacy Networks
Each Part D plan has their own requirements regarding which pharmacy their members use. Some plans will offer no coverage at certain pharmacies and others may set some pharmacies as “preferred” and others as “standard.”
Using a preferred pharmacy will lower the out-of-pocket cost for medications.
Medicare Part D Deductible
Insurance companies set their own deductibles for each Part D plan. Oftentimes, the deductible only applies to drugs in tier two and above. Common, generic drugs are usually in tier one, where the deductible does not typically apply. However, this varies by plan and individuals should be sure to check which of their medications must meet the deductible.
Part D Drug Formularies and Specialty Tiers
Each Part D plan has a drug formulary. This includes the prescription drug coverage found in Medicare Advantage plans.
The drug formulary is the list of covered medications within the plan. Those medications are placed in tiers. Generic, common medications are placed in lower tiers, while name-brand, specialty medications are placed in higher tiers. The higher the tier, the more the individual will pay.
However, exceptions can be made. If a provider informs the drug company that there is no replacement for the specialty drug, a discount may be given for drugs in a higher tier. These exceptions are not common, but may save beneficiaries money when applied.
Specialty drugs may also require that the provider obtain approval from the insurance company before administering the medication. The insurance company may also require the member to try a less expensive medication before approving coverage for more expensive ones.
The Part D Annual Notice of Change
The Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) is sent out to all Part D members every year at the end of September.
The ANOC will notify the member of any upcoming changes to their Part D plan. Changes may include changes to the premium, deductible, and overall coverage. Changes to the plan will go into effect on January 1 of the upcoming year. Unless the member chooses a new plan, their coverage will continue under the same plan with the new changes.
If a member is not satisfied with the changes, they can enroll in a different plan during the Annual Enrollment Period. AEP occurs every year from October 15 through December 7. Individuals may change plans during this time. The new coverage will begin on January 1.