Using the government’s Medicare online plan finder tool to compare dozens of 2014 drug policies is supposed to make shopping easier. It also makes shopping more transparent, uncovering pricing rules that squeeze extra dollars from seniors and inconvenience them unnecessarily, Kaiser Health News reports.
Some insurers charge higher prices for a prescription filled every two or three months compared to the same drug bought every month, for example.
“You’re buying less and paying more,” an official of Senior PharmAssist
, a nonprofit group in Durham, N.C., told KHN.
If you're a Medicare beneficiary, you have until Dec. 7 to sign up for drug coverage
for 2014. Because plans change continually, experts recommend you compare plans each year to make sure you're getting the best value. But the process is so complex that most people don't switch, says KHN.
Medicare’s plan finder helps you narrow your plan choices by entering your drugs, dosages and pharmacy preferences. Based on that information, it gives you a list of available plans and their premiums, deductibles and drug costs.
KHN found that while some drugs like eyedrops can last more than a moth, some insurers don't allow discounted pricing for other than 30 days. Under one plan, a beneficiary who has a monthly prescription for eye drops would pay $7 a month during the initial coverage period to get the drug, while another person who has a prescription for the drops to be filled every 60 days would pay $51. In another example, two plans charge $40 or $45 for three vials of insulin every month in the initial coverage period, and $575 every two months.
Medicare could improve this situation by requiring plans to cover whatever supply a provider prescribes. Read the story.