Each year the Medicare Part D program undergoes changes. Being aware of these changes can help you choose the best Part D plan for your circumstances.
Included here is a brief summary of Medicare Part D 2012 changes and how they will affect you. As you will see, some changes will increase your out-of-pocket expense and one change in particular will allow you more freedom to change plans outside of the Annual Enrollment Period.
New Annual Enrollment period for 2012 Part D
For plans with a January 2012 effective date the Annual Enrollment Period will begin October 15, 2011 and end December 7, 2011. Marketing of plans will begin October 1.
This new enrollment time frame will allow you to avoid trying to conduct business during the holiday season as well as increase the amount of time you have to compare Part D plans for 2012.
Tip: Start early and remember that the last application submitted will be effective January 1, 2012.
This change will undoubtedly mean that many people will miss their opportunity to compare and make changes to their Part D coverage. Don’t be one of them!
Compare Medicare Plans Without Submitting Your Info Online – Call (888) 310-0376
Part D Special Enrollment Period for 5 star plans
CMS has introduced a new Special Enrollment Period for 2012. This enrollment period will allow you to change plans once at any time during the year as long as you are switching to a 5 star rated plan. Plan ratings are displayed on the Medicare website.
If you are enrolled in original Medicare and are eligible for Part D you can also choose a 5 star plan even if it is not time for the Annual Enrollment period.
Although this change may seem positive on the surface, just because a plan is rated 5 stars does not mean it is necessarily the best plan for your circumstances. You will still need to ensure that the plan is affordable and that all your medications are included in the plan’s formulary.
Overview of standard Part D benefit changes
Annual deductible – Can be as high as $320 in 2012.
Initial coverage limit – Increases to $2930 from $2840 in 2012.
Out-of-pocket threshold – Will increase to $4700 in 2012.
Part D donut hole – Begins when your reach $2930 and ends when you reach $4700.
Part D benefits related to the donut hole that began with 2011 plans will continue for 2012 Medicare part D plans. While in the donut hole, brand name drugs will be reduced by 50%. The full price of the drugs will count towards cost sharing and will allow you to reach the catastrophic coverage limit quicker.
Monthly premiums for 2012 PDPs will vary widely with plan formularies and service areas contributing to this variance in cost.
Extra help for people with limited finances will still be available. If you are unsure whether you qualify for extra help, contact Social Security for a quick review.
Many of these Medicare Part D 2012 changes are not that drastic although you may have a little more out-of-pocket. If you are dis-satisfied with your 2012 Part D plan consider exploring 5 star plans that you may have available.