Am I Required to Buy a Medicare Drug Plan?

Am I required to buy a Medicare drug plan? What if I don’t take drugs? Can I wait until I need a plan? GA Medicare expert Bob Vineyard explains.

Is Medicare Part D required by law? What is the best 2019 drug plan? Is there a penalty if I DON’T buy a prescription plan? Is Part D optional?

required to buy medicare drug plan
Required to Buy a Medicare Drug Plan?

Medicare Part D

I don’t take any prescription drugs. Why must I buy something I don’t need or want?

You are not REQUIRED to buy a prescription Medicare drug plan. But if you don’t enroll in a plan when first eligible you will pay a penalty.

And the penalty is payable for life. It also increases every year.

So . . .

Am I Required to Buy a Medicare Drug Plan?

Where Can I Find the BEST Plan?

Finding the best Medicare drug plan isn’t easy. Part D is the most confusing part of Medicare. How do I find the RIGHT plan for me?

You could get lucky this time, but what about next year?

Is there a GUIDE to Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage? Yes, and it is only 88 pages . . .

The best drug plan is the one that is right for you. Do the following before enrolling.

  • Use the Medicare Drug Plan Finder
  • Enter all your current medications
  • Choose a pharmacy. Look for the one with the lowest copay’s.
  • Make sure all your drugs are on the formulary
  • Consider buying generics with cash or a discount card
  • Look for plans with a deductible
  • Enroll in a plan with the lowest total out of pocket cost

You can do all this by yourself.

Or you can ask a Medicare expert to help. I am always willing to help my Medigap clients. If you are not a client, please don’t ask. It’s not personal, it’s just business.

Why is Medicare Confusing?

Seniors often buy the wrong drug plan and spend too much on their prescription plan. Seniors on Medicare spend an average of $263 per month on prescription medications.

Lower your medication bill by only using your drug card when necessary. The right drug plan will save a lot on brand names but you will almost always pay MORE for generics.

Consider paying cash or using GoodRx instead for maximum savings. Also look for a Medicare drug plan with a deductible. https://youtu.be/LaA9NnFeBXI

You have questions? I have answers. Call or email.

#MedicareDrugPlan #MedicarePartD #GAMedicareExpert

Free and Low Cost Prescription Drugs

Medicare resource for free and low cost prescription drugs. Are you 65 or older and can’t afford your medications? Paying too much for generics? Medicare’s annual election period, commonly referred to as open enrollment, is the only time of year when anyone can change their Medicare Part D plan.How to find free and low cost prescription drugs

Many seniors mistakenly believe Medicare open enrollment allows them to change their Medicare supplement plan without answering health questions. The truth is, you can drop your existing Medigap plan and purchase a new one any time of year, as long as you can pass medical underwriting.

The cost of prescription medications has steadily risen since 2006 when Medicare Part D was created. Some generic drugs that were once considered affordable are now out of reach. Many of these medications now reach $200 or more.

Help is on the way.

 

How to Find Low Cost or Free Prescription Drugs

Finding low cost or free medications can be challenging if you don’t know where to look.

For many, an even bigger challenge is finding a Medicare prescription drug plan that is right for you. Fortunately there are many articles and sites on the internet providing a treasure trove of information, if you only knew where to look.

One such site is VeryWell, a health and information site owned by the folks at About.com. Earlier this year they published an article titled Stores that Offer Free and Low Cost Prescription Drugs.

We found the page while searching for one of our Medicare clients that was having trouble paying for her medications. She has Part D, but that was not enough. VeryWell’s article listed national and regional chain stores where you can save a lot of money on prescription drugs. Here is a partial list.

  • Costco
  • Kroger
  • Publix
  • Walmart
  • Sam’s

Warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s allow anyone to purchase prescription drugs even if they are not members. The hope is visitors will see other things where they can save money and will purchase a membership.

Costco also has a branded Visa card with an annual cash back reward for purchases at Costco including gasoline. The card can be used anywhere so your annual “dividend” can multiply with almost every purchase.

 

Rising Medicare Supplement Rates

Many retirees on a fixed income are also finding their Medigap premiums rising to the point where budgets are squeezed. Georgia Medicare plans offers a free, no obligation way to shop and compare Georgia Medigap rates in the comfort of your home.

Using our search engine you can compare about 30 popular plans, compare benefits and rates side by side.

We also offer a more comprehensive research report showing over 200 Georgia Medicare supplement plans and rates.

Your information is never sold. There is never any charge for the report. We do hope to earn your business and believe many will appreciate our no pressure approach.

 

Even More Ways to Find Low Cost Drugs

For over 20 years we have shown our clients how to save money on prescription drugs. Many drug discount plans are worthless and often you will pay a higher price than you normally would by just paying cash.

GoodRx is an exception to the rule.

Last year I needed to refill a prescription for Clobetasol to tame the itch of eczema. A tube normally lasts about 18 months and it normally is less than $20.

However I was shocked to learn the price with my Part D drug plan was going to be $92.

I left the store without taking my prescription with me. By using the GoodRx drug finder I was able to purchase the cream at a competing pharmacy for only $27!

Another resource is Blue Sky Drugs, a reputable Canadian pharmacy. Current pricing for Clobetasol is even lower than GoodRx.

 

How to Find Inexpensive Prescription Medications

Many people who live in rural areas may only have a few places where they can fill their presciptions. The folks at NeedyMeds offer a wealth of information when searching for free and low cost prescription drugs. They also have PAP’s (patient assistant programs) for many of the newer, high priced brand names.

The NeedyMeds $4 Prescription Drug Finder lists savings plans in alphabetical order by pharmacy name.

Some places, such as Publix grocery stores, offer FREE prescription medications.

Below is a partial list of free and low cost prescription drug resources. Grocery chains

  • Publix
  • Kroger
  • Winn Dixie

Many national drug stores have their own promotional plans for saving money on generic drugs.

  • CVS / Target
  • Rite Aid
  • Walgreens

Another resource for locating low cost prescription drugs in the US and Canada is Pharmacy Checker. Enter the name of your medication in the box and start the search.

If you need or want to save money on your medications (who doesn’t?) there are plenty of ways to lower your costs.

Our FREE annual review during Medicare open enrollment saves our clients hundreds or even thousands of dollars vs. their current drug plan. Two of our Medicare supplement clients will save over $4,000 next year by switching Part D plans and pharmacy’s.

We can’t guarantee you will save that much but many times the drug plan savings alone is enough to cover the cost of your Medicare supplement premium.

Need to save money on prescription drugs? Ask us. We can help.

 

#FreeLowCostPrescriptionDrugs #MedicareSupplementRates  #MedicarePartD  #MedicareOpenEnrollment

 

 

 

Does Medicare Pay For Glucose Monitors?

Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM’s) are life savers for many insulin dependent diabetics. Medicare does cover diabetic supplies and medications but it is the way those items are covered that can be confusing. Not all diabetics need a pump. Not all diabetics that need a pump need a CGM. Some are able to manage their disease with either oral medication or by injection.

CGM Continuous Glucose Monitor CGM

If your doctor certifies to Medicare that you meet their criteria for an insulin pump then maybe Medicare will cover the device.

Or maybe they won’t.

And Medicare might pay for some glucose monitor’s but not for others.

Confused?

Read on.

 

CGM’s and Medicare

A CGM can be an insulin pump but not all insulin pumps are CGM’s.

In insulin pump is an implantable device used to administer insulin rather than using a syringe and needle. Pumps can be programmed to release small doses of insulin in much the same way as your pancreas does. By delivering “mini” doses of medicine the need for long acting insulin is eliminated.

A Continuous Glucose Monitor continuously measures your glucose levels but not your blood glucose levels.

Medicare covers therapeutic CGM’s but not adjunctive CGM’s.

 

Medicare Part B and Part D

Insulin is covered under Medicare Part D (drug plans) unless it is covered by Part B.

Screening for diabetes is covered by Medicare Part B . . . unless you need more than two screenings per year.

Medicare Part B pays for glucose monitors, lancet’s, test strips and most other Durable Medical Equipment (DME) but they do limit the quantity and how often you can get these supplies.

If you use insulin Medicare covers up to 300 test strips and lancets every 3 months. But if you do not use insulin Medicare covers up to 100 test strips and lancets every 3 months.

Apparently Medicare believes you do not need to test your blood sugar as often if you are not insulin dependent.

Medicare Part D covers insulin unless it is covered by Part B.

Medicare may pay for Continuous Glucose Monitor sensor’s but only if your monitor is a specific brand. Sensors are devices planted under the skin to monitor and relay information about your glucose levels.

Medicare has approved the Dexcom G5 CGM but only if you use the receiver that comes with your device but not if you use a smart phone app.

Do you really think Medicare will track everyone who has a Dexcom G5 to see if they are checking their glucose on their smart phone? And why should Medicare care if you use your smart phone or not?

Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan in many cases your plan will pay 80% of the cost of your pump or CGM and you will pay the remaining 20%. Monitors run anywhere from $1000 to $1400 plus another $300 or so each month for sensors. And you will need a battery that is changed about once a year or so. They run around $500.

With an Advantage plan your out of pocket costs can get expensive over the course of a year.

Medicare Advantage plans are purposely designed to maximize your out of pocket expense while minimizing the carriers out of pocket.

For those with original Medicare and a supplement plan your out of pocket cost for a pump and approved continuous glucose monitor can be $0 if you have Medigap plan F.

And let’s not forget insulin.

Many Advantage plans run your insulin through the drug plan portion of your coverage.

Unless your Advantage plan does not cover prescription drugs. Then your insulin may still be allocated to Part D. Insulin under Part D can run $300 – $500 monthly depending on the type of insulin and dosage. It also varies by where you are in regard to the donut hole.

 

Medigap and Your Diabetes

Under original Medicare, if you have a pump, with or without a CGM, your insulin is covered by Part B. That means your out of pocket cost could be $0 for the year if you have a Medigap plan.

The BEST time to purchase a Medicare supplement plan is when your Part B goes into effect and you are turning 65 or older.

Georgia Medicare Plans specializes in helping seniors find Medicare supplement plans with the lowest premiums in their area. Our exclusive report shows you every Medigap plan in your area based on your age and gender. No need to waste time searching for the best rates. We shop, you compare. Call or email.

You can also run your own Medigap quotes from the comfort of your home.

CGM Monitors - Georgia Medicare Supplement Rates

You have questions. We have answers. Never any selling.

 

#CGM #ContinuousGlucoseMonitor #DexcomG5#InsulinPump #MedicareDiabetes #MedicareDiabeticCoverage #GeorgiaMedicareSupplementRates

 

Medicare Drug Plan Fail

Medicare drug plans fail when you least expect it. I remember it well. It was sunny and warm. After leaving my dermatologist and stopping by the drug store to pick up my new prescription my Medicare drug plan failed me.

Right there in the pharmacy. I was betrayed by my Humana drug plan.

It was humiliating. Medicare drug plan fail

Trusting my Medicare drug card was a costly mistake. It had never let me down before but today was different.

I felt cheated.

I followed all the rules. Used generic medications to save money vs. brand names. Every year during Medicare open enrollment I faithfully checked to see if I had the best Medicare Part D. The one with the lowest drug out of pocket cost.

This was a new prescription for a medication I use only when needed. It is only filled once a year or so. In the past the medication never cost more than $20, but today it was $92.

I had the money, but I knew something was wrong. Had my drug card gone over to the dark side? Was I being ripped off?

I walked out without my prescription.

 

When Your Medicare Drug Plan Fails You

Prior to 2006 Medicare beneficiaries usually had to pay full price for their prescription drugs. Then things changed.

For some people, Medicare Part D was a godsend. For others it was the work of the devil.  These are times when your Medicare drug plan can fail you.

  • Many PAP’s (Patient Assistance Programs) are not available if you have a Medicare drug plan
  • You take a brand name drug and a generic is available, your drug plan probably won’t help
  • Your doctor prescribes a new drug in the middle of the year, you may be paying too much for your new medication
  • You fill a prescription that you only take once in a while
  • You assume all pharmacy’s charge the same price
  • You buy an OTC medication with a prescription
  • When you are not aware of the best price available
  • You assume your Medicare drug plan is giving you the best price every time

Too often retirees automatically use their Part D card and never consider they might be paying too much. They don’t know where to look or don’t bother to research. They assume they are always getting the best price.

Some drugs are covered by Medicare Part B. If you have original Medicare and a good Medigap plan your out of pocket cost could be $0 instead of hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year.

Most people we talk to are paying too much for their Medicare supplement plan. With over 240 different Medigap plans you probably didn’t see the best pricing.

Georgia Medigap Rates - Instant Quotes

Regardless of the excuse, they are wrong and are spending money that could have been kept in their pocket.

 

Medicare Drug Price Transparency

Unlike most other health care, prescription drugs have almost 100% transparency.

If you know where to look.

Here are some general tips for controlling medication costs.

  • Run a free Medicare drug report every year when you receive your ANOC (annual notice of change)
  • Consider using a different pharmacy and if possible, use only preferred pharmacy’s
  • Learn how to manage your drug costs and avoid the donut hole
  • Ask if you qualify for Medicare Extra Help
  • Consider using a discount drug card
  • Save money by using mail order, especially from Canadian pharmacy’s
  • Never fill a new prescription without first checking prices

Medicare Part D is the most complex and confusing aspect of Medicare. If you don’t understand your plan, and how to use it, you will definitely pay too much.

 

How I Saved Over $60 on One Medication

I run reports for my Medigap clients all the time. Almost every time we find ways to save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars over the course of a year.

Some clients have been taking OTC medications for years but paying a pharmacist to fill their prescription. On more than one occasion clients are paying over $100 per month for a cholesterol medication that could be bought off the shelf or online. A years supply of this drug is available from Amazon for less than $30. Compare that to paying over $1500 per year for the exact same medication.

Others will needlessly go into the donut hole. Had they managed where and when they bought their prescription the donut hole could have been avoided completely.

In my case the $92 fill at CVS was available across the street for $27.

When will your Medicare prescription drug plan fail you?

 

#MedicarePartD #DrugDiscountCards #CanadianPharmacy

Don’t Buy a Medicare Drug Plan

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Don’t buy a Medicare drug plan. Don’t buy it from Blue Cross, AARP, Humana or any other carrier. Don’t buy a drug plan from a company website. Don’t buy Part D from an agent. Not any agent.

And that includes me.*

don't buy a medicare drug plan

don’t buy a medicare drug plan

But you should allow me to review available drug plans (there are currently more than 20 of them) and suggest the best drug plan / pharmacy combination that produces the lowest out of pocket cost to you.

We recently showed 2 different clients how to save over $4,000 per year

by switching plans AND pharmacy’s.

 

Don’t Buy a Medicare Drug Plan That Has a Deductible

Unless you understand how much money you could save.

Drug plan deductibles are confusing to consumers.

But many agents also don’t understand them.

So we made this video just for you.

 

We Shop – You Compare

How easy is that?

I will also shop the market for you and suggest the best GA Medigap plan. With more than 170 different Medicare supplement plans in Georgia, you will be overwhelmed and confused.

I can distill your options down to a handful of plans and carriers to consider in less than 10 minutes and show you why some plans deliver the best value while the rest really stink.

Click now to shop and compare GA Medigap quotes now.

Your information is never sold.

 

Don’t  buy a Medicare drug plan direct

Depending on where you live in Georgia, there could be as many as 30 different Medicare drug plans offered by over a dozen different carriers.

atlanta gaMonthly premiums start in the mid teen’s and your annual projected drug costs could be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

Don’t buy a drug plan direct from a carrier.

If you call Blue Cross, or Humana, or Aetna or any of the other carriers offering drug plans what will you get?

A sales pitch about their plans.

They won’t tell you about plans from other carriers that might be better. They may even forget to mention other ways to save money on your prescription drugs.

Of course you can always just shop online at the carrier sites.

Click to find the drug plans.

Click to enter your medications and dosage.

Click to pick a pharmacy from the preferred list.

Click to review plan options and drug costs.

Then when you are through go to another carrier site. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

How much fun is that?

John C. of Atlanta saved over $500 per year by purchasing his Medigap plan through Georgia Medicare Plans

 

Don’t buy Medicare Part D from an agent.

Never buy your drug plan from an agent.

Not any agent.

bob on fbIncluding me.

Why?

Legally, an agent can only tell you about plans they are certified to present. Most agents are only approved to discuss a few plans from maybe 2 or 3 carriers.

Out of 20+ drug plans that may be in your area most agents can only legally discuss maybe 3 or 4.

What about the other plans?

Medicare does not allow them to tell you about better plans, only the few they are approved to offer.

The same rules apply to Medicare Advantage plans.

When an agent tries to sell you an Advantage plan they can only discuss the ones they are approved to offer. And they are not allowed to compare one plan against another.

Currently Marietta, Georgia has 11 different Advantage plans from 6 different carriers. It the agent that is hoping to sell you a plan is only appointed with two of the carriers, not only can they not compare the two plans for you but they can’t tell you about plans from the other 4 carriers.

There are over 240 different Medigap plans in Marietta and I am allowed to discuss any or all of them and give your rates on any of them by phone or email.

Doesn’t that make more sense?

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Where should you buy a Medicare drug plan?

Don’t buy it from a carrier.

Don’t buy it from an agent.

The only place you will get information on EVERY drug plan in your area is at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)

The people that answer the phones can tell you about every plan available to you, even the ones that don’t pay a commission to an agent.

You can buy a drug plan at 3:00 AM or 3:00 PM.

Seven days a week.

24 hours a day.

Except on federal holidays

You can get informed and unbiased information on Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

The best time to call is usually after 7:00 PM week nights.

Here is what you will need:

  • The exact name and dosage of each medication
  • How often refilled
  • Drug refill quantity
  • Retail or mail order
  • Preferred pharmacy

But let us help you with your Medicare supplement options AND show you how to save money on Medicare Part D year after year

Here’s why.

 

Do not buy a Medicare supplement plan from Medicare

You certainly can if you wish. But consider this.

  • Medicare.gov only gives you premium ranges, not exact rates
  • Medicare.gov only has a few carriers and most of the information is outdated
  • You won’t learn who is new to Georgia and who has been writing business for years
  • You won’t learn which carriers are pulling out of Georgia
  • You won’t know about past or future rate increases
  • You won’t learn which plans were dropped by carriers
  • You won’t learn which carriers stopped writing business under an old name and started with a new one
  • You won’t learn about average annual rate increases
  • But you can buy a plan 24/7 if you are in a hurry and don’t care about any of the above items

When you allow Bob Vineyard at Georgia Medicare plans to assist, you get the benefit of 40 years experience in the health insurance business.

Or you can buy from a carrier or Medicare.gov and hope the person answering the phone can really answer your questions.

We can discuss all of the 240 Medigap plans, tell you which ones are due for a rate increase, which have a history of huge rate increases and which carriers don’t yet have a track record. We will provide you with rates by phone and email.

Click to shop

 

#MedicareDrugPlans #MedicarePartD  #Don’tDoDrugs