Medicare Prescription Plans Set To Rise 21%

Seniors need to start comparison shopping now for their Medicare benefits. Enrollment begins November 15 and researchers say that beneficiaries in the most popular plans could see their monthly premiums lurch up 21%. Robert M. Hayes, president of the Medicare Rights Center, recommends,

“making a list of your medicines and how much you pay for them under your current plan. Check if that plan and other potential plans will cover those medications next year. If a plan doesn’t, you could check with your doctor to see if a similar medicine or a generic would be as effective. Check the fine print because some plans permit certain drugs only after a patient has tried other medications.”

Medicare.gov has lots of information and tools for comparison shopping. Some Medicare recipients may not be computer or internet savvy, so consider asking an older friend or family member if they need some help navigating the system.

Oddly enough, the popular plans that built up a big user base by having lower premiums are the ones raising their prices most significantly. Funny how that works.

Drug-Plan Shopping [Wall Street Journal via Consumer World Blog]
(Photo: trekkyandy)

Comments

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  1. SexCpotatoes says:

    *sigh*

    Thanks for the heads up Consumerist. Looks like I know how I’ll be spending my night tonight, helping my dad go through and find the best plan for him.

  2. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    Dear Old People,
    Thanks for contributing all that money from your paychecks, but you won’t be getting that back.
    XOXO
    Medicare
    P.S. – if you could stop living so long, or being so sick, that would really be great.

  3. vex says:

    With the record number of people retiring, I imagine medicare is going to shoot through the roof. Either retired folks are just not going afford it, or the government is going to take it out of the paychecks of the working generation.

  4. OldSpinDoc says:

    Has anyone actually tried to use that Medicare website?

    Forget being “Internet savvy.” That thing would confuse a computer scientist…

  5. Auntie M. says:

    @OldSpinDoc:
    No kidding. My 82-year-old mother uses the internet, so I just went there so that I could refer her to the website. I could barely navigate it, so I don’t think she’ll be able to.

  6. DrGirlfriend says:

    Anyone still clamoring for universal healthcare that uses the Medicare model? Or “Medicare for all”?

  7. Buran says:

    Figures, you go get the best deal and that’s the one that gets jacked up on you.

    I’m lucky enough to work for a university and I’ll be paying all of $3/month more, but I wince every time I open that enrollment brochure, expecting to get slammed. So far they’ve kept our costs very moderate but I have to wonder how much we’re really being shielded. How bad is it for those who work for private companies?

  8. fhic says:

    @DrGirlfriend:
    Well, yes. Is Medicare perfect? No, far from it. And the coverage “donut hole” in Part D is just plain silly. But what are the alternatives?

    The premium for the prescription plan at the company I work for is going up by 33% as of next year (after going up 28% last year) and my only choices are pay it or have no drug coverage. And unlike Medicare, our plan has a hard ceiling and no catastrophic coverage provision.

    I’d much prefer to have the option to negotiate with multiple vendors, with the coverage requirements outlined by federal law and a safety net courtesy of Uncle Sam. And there are a lot of people in worse circumstances than my coworkers and I; my company is a major healthcare provider, out there on the leading edge, with huge negotiating power simply because we’re a service provider to most insurers. I can’t imagine what it’s like for employers who don’t have an “in” and want to have health insurance for their employees.

    Oh, and the part of our company medical plan premiums that the employees pay has gone up by “only” 25% as of next year. “Only” because the company is eating the rest of a 45% rate increase. These rate increases simply aren’t sustainable for much longer.

    If you have a plan that’s better than “Medicare for all” I’d love to hear it.

  9. XopherMV says:

    @DrGirlfriend:

    These plans may be “Medicare”, but they are run by private corporations. They are an abomination put in place by the Bush administration and a Republican Congress. These programs are worse than if the government ran it themselves. But, that was not the point. Bush and the Republicans wanted to make this program shitty so that people WOULD question “big government”, just like you did with your statement.

    Yes, universal health care run completely by the government would be better. Get rid of the money-grubbing private companies whose only incentive is profit. They only care about patient care as long as they’re making money. It’s time we joined the rest of the industrialized world in removing the profit motive from something as critical as our health.

  10. badteaparty says:

    So for those of us who had to spend MANY hours helping our older parent weed through the original maze, we can look forward to doing it every year? Until we give up and agree to go leave them on a mountaintop somewhere? But it’s OK to rack up 3 TRILLION dollars in the Iraq war because, um, why again? We live longer than people used to, but this shit saps my will to live.

  11. JiminyChristmas says:

    @DrGirlfriend: I am.

    The problem with Medicare Part D is that it’s not actually operating based upon the Medicare model. It is operated by third-party insurers, but paid for by Medicare. Medicare was not given the power to directly negotiate prices for pharmaceuticals, plus it has to pay a middleman to administer the benefit. The only role Medicare has in the whole debacle is determining initial eligibility.

    This is what you get when a political party that purports to hate ‘big government’ designs an entitlement program. They go on and on about how government doesn’t work, and then do their damnedest to make sure that’s the case. The only reason the Republicans passed this p.o.s. legislation is that continuing to do nothing on Medicare prescription drug access would have amounted to political suicide in the 2006 elections. So, Part D is what they came up with: a ‘drug plan’ that’s more effective at giving away tax money to private insurers and PhARMA than actually providing prescriptions to Medicare recipients.

    To give you an idea of how totally FUBAR this situation is: In my state there are over 150 private insurers qualified to provide Medicare Part D coverage. Seniors are expected to shop the formularies of every one of those and figure out which one gives them the best deal for the drugs they take. The formularies and the premiums change every year. God help you if your drug regimen changes mid-year, because who knows if it will be covered or how much it will cost.