The biggest single cost-saver? Picking the right Medicare plan.
Whether you are preparing to change your Medicare plan, or signing up for Medicare for the first time, you will want to make a careful selection so you don't end up spending more than you need to.
Asking your doctors a few key questions—such as, Is there a generic?—can save you a bundle more.
1. Focus on choosing the right drug plan, which depends in part on which drugs you take.
The majority of seniors are enrolled under original Medicare, which includes hospital insurance (known as Medicare Part A) and medical insurance (Medicare Part B).
You need to evaluate on an individual basis which is your the best option. Depending on your prescriptions and other health care needs, Medicare Advantage may or may not be better for you than original Medicare.
For medications you take regularly for a chronic condition, opt for the convenience and potential cost-savings of mail-order. In addition to sparing you unnecessary trips to the pharmacy, mail-ordering can sometimes include a 90-day supply at a reduced cost, depending on your insurance company and what kind of meds you need.
Once you enroll in an insurance plan you should be able to go that insurer's website to order your prescriptions delivered, or you can do it over the phone.
Be sure to ask your doctor whether he or she needs to sign off on a 90-day supply. And take care to order refills before you need them so there isn't a gap of time when you don't have any pills.
Ask your doctor if this is an option. The brand-name version of the drug you take is significantly more expensive than the generic form, if one is available.For example, simvastatin is the generic version of the drug Zocor, which is prescribed to control elevated cholesterol. Thirty 40mg tablets of the brand version of the drug may cost between $88.90 and $113.20 a month, while the generic equivalent can go as low as $15 a month.
Sometimes pills that are double the dose of your medication cost the same as a single dose, and can easily be cut in half. For instance, if your doctor says you need a 10 mg dose of a particular drug each day, ask him or her whether your medication comes in doses of 20 mg and if they can safely be split in half.
Many drugs used to treat high blood pressure and depression can be split, as can all cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins.
The open enrollment period for Medicare is from October 15 to December 7, with changes taking effect January 1. You can enroll for the first time when you turn 65, and there are also Special Enrollment Periods for when you move or become eligible for Medicaid.
If you are an active worker on an employer plan, you will want to talk to your human resources department to make sure you understand all of your options.
If you have questions regarding your Medicare benefits, email me at
Ask Will, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (773) 614-3201.