Time is fast approaching when changes can be made to your Medicare prescription drug coverage and health plan.
According to the Medicare Interactive, www.medicareinteractive.gov, Monday, Nov. 15, through Friday, Dec. 31, is Annual Coordinated Election Period, the time when most people can change their Medicare plans.
Your Medicare private drug plan costs throughout the year will depend on what drugs you take, whether your plan covers them, and whether there are any coverage restrictions. Another plan may have lower co-pays, cover more of your drugs, have fewer restrictions or offer some coverage during the coverage gap.
Here's how to review your current plan. Review your plan's Annual Notice of Change. Each fall, your Medicare private drug plan will send you a notice explaining how your plan's coverage and costs are changing for the next year. Your plan must send you this notice before the end of October.
Find out whether your drugs will be covered next year. You should call your plan and ask, as plans are only required to send you a shortened list of covered drugs (formulary). Also find out if your co-pays will change and whether the plan is adding any coverage restrictions that will require your doctor to ask for special permission before the plan will cover your drugs.
If your doctor had to make a special request for your plan to cover a drug for you this year (such as a prior authorization or exception request) and you will need the same medication next year, call your plan and find out what you must do to make sure your plan keeps covering your drug. Your doctor may have to make a new request and he/she may be able to do so before the end of this year to ensure your drug will still be covered next year. If your plan will no longer cover a drug you are taking, you can also have your doctor make an exception request for your drug to be covered next year.
Once you have reviewed your current plan, see what other options are available in your area. Visit www.medicare.gov, call 1-800-MEDICARE, or contact the Clinton County Office for the Aging at 565-4620. There are three HIICAP counselors on staff to assist with determining what your options are.
The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620. Information is also periodically provided by the Behavioral Health Services North Caregiver Resource Center. They may be reached at 565-4543 or 565-4625.