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Help! and/or Buyer Beware: Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder and/or choosing a Part D Plan
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Lisa
    Minnesota
    Joined: Dec 2008
    Posts: 2
    
Post Date: 12/27/2008 5:58:41 PM
Each time I find an answer in writing on medicare.gov, it conflicts with written information from the Plan and/or from what actually happens at the pharmacy when I pay the bill - which the pharmacist has no control over - he enters all my info into my Plan's system and out comes the price I am to pay. The Plan finder allows you to look at each plan's 2008 costs - that's how I realized the plan finder was not even close to using what I actually pay at my pharmacy, and set me on a quest to find the real answer to the question of which plan will cost the least for me in 2009? I have not gotten any answers from online sources or calling the plans and talking to a live person - when I asked one plan rep. where I could find one vague and implausible answer she gave me (regarding an actual number for the quantity limits the plan states it imposes on one of my medications) in writing, she didn't know. In the past (2006 for Part D and 1999 for Part B) I have met with people (volunteers?) from various senior/disabled advocacy groups who are supposed to have training in these plans and found that they did not have an understanding of them either - at least one came straight out and admitted they didn't know how to get answers to my questions. Yesterday I asked my pharmacist of 30 years if he knows if there is anyone who has answers. He said he didn't think such a person existed and I think he may be right. If I do come up with a reliable source of info - I will post - but time (at least for this year) is nearly gone. I'm starting to think of it as a project that if I decide to follow through on, I will have to take on as a full year pursuit - the 45 day enrollment period and many hours have left me with many more questions than the single one I started with: What plan will cost the least for me in 2009, since the costs of the one I signed up for in 2006 have skyrocketed? Well, when the medicare.gov part D plan calculator said I could cut my cost in half by switching to a particular different plan I got very motivated to spend the time and effort to look into this plan. Now I am just exhausted and stressed. Another thing my pharmacist said is that he thinks all the plans seem to be pretty similar - I may just end up staying with what I already have. The stress may end up costing me far more in health problems than the (possibly non-existant) $900 I was led to believe I could save with another plan.

If anyone does know how to get reliable information, or that it is simply not possible and you can explain why not, PLEASE let me (us) know. I'd be deeply grateful!

Lisa
Minnesota
Steve
    Joined: Dec 2008
    Posts: 1
Post Date: 12/29/2008 1:54:14 PM
What I've done each year is to use the Medicare site calculator (you've got to enter your specific drugs) as a screening tool to narrow my search for the top half dozen or so plans.

Then you've got to investigate each of these plans both online and with phone calls in order to come up with the best option. The key is to be persistent. If necessary, call back to find a competent representative. It helps to create your own drug by drug spread sheet.
Lisa
    Minnesota
    Joined: Dec 2008
    Posts: 2
Post Date: 12/31/2008 7:32:05 PM
Steve - Thanks so much - I did a rough version of this for my 2008 actual plan costs using premiums paid and pharmacy receipts to check against the Medicare Plan Finder results for my drugs and plan during 2008. The actual cost for my plan and drugs for 2008 were roughly $400 less than the estimate per Plan Finder. I like your advice; simple to understand, yet thorough and organized. It's something I can work on a little at a time and be ready for 2010.
 

 

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