Many Overpay for their Medicare Part D Plans

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period for 2013 is now open. Between now and December 7, 2012, Medicare beneficiaries can choose their Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Part D plan for 2013. However, the Center for Medicare Advocacy (www.medicareadvocacy.org) has reported that few Part D enrollees choose plans that are the best for them.

Quoting a recent “Health Affairs” article, the Center reported that, when the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit began in 2006, many policy makers were concerned about whether seniors would be able to make smart choices from among all of the competing plans. Based on data from 2009, only 5.2% of beneficiaries choose the cheapest plan. On average, beneficiaries spent $368 more per year than they would have if they had chosen the cheapest plan available in their region, based on their individual medication needs. More than 20% of beneficiaries spent at least $500 a year more than they needed to.

The researchers cited what they called “high cost of learning” as a reason for the overspending – the language describing the plans are so complicated, and it is often difficult to find an unbiased expert to provide assistance. We hope that The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (“CMS”) can eventually provide some form of customized communications, recommending the three most appropriate Part D plans for a beneficiary based on his or her own medication history. In the meantime, many geriatric care managers and Life Care Planning Law Firms, which do not benefit from their clients’ selection of any particular plan, can provide assistance to elders and their families in the selection of the best plan.

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