If you're using the Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, you have to select the plan you want by May 15. But if you're as confused as I have been, that date is coming far too quickly. In addition to presenting us with way too many options, the Medicare website has a glaring omission. It doesn't say whether or not the drugs you may need immediately are available immediately.
When your doctor prescribes a medication, you want to be able to go out and get it right away. But some drug plans won't allow you to do this. They require prior authorization for particular medications – and they can force you to use alternative drugs that may or may not be what your doctor wants you to take. The time it takes to get this authorization can be critical to your health.
But that's not all.
Some plans have a co-pay of $20 or less while others charge you much more. Out of 100 of the most commonly used drugs, the plan I was looking at had no co-pays under $20. The number of drugs that you can get for a $20 or less co-pay varies from 95 to 20! That's a huge difference.
What was needed was a simple way of looking at all the options available for us no matter where we live so we can choose the one that best fits our needs. Don't expect to get this information in the official government Medicare & You handbook. Like other government documents, it's confusing.
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But now there's a simple way to cut through all the confusion. Tod Cooperman, MD, head of ConsumerLab.com, an Internet-based company that evaluates the quality of nutritional supplements, decided to do something to end this confusion. He created a free website about prescription drug plans that's simple to navigate. You can compare different plans available in your state on this site quickly and easily.
Personally, I found it to be extremely helpful. I'm not taking any prescription medications at this time, but I still want coverage in case I need them. With the help of a Medicare representative, I had decided on a plan that costs only a little more than $5 a month with a yearly $250 deductible. Sounded fine to me until I looked further on this new website. This plan offered none of the 100 drugs for a co-pay less than $20.
Another plan from the same insurance group, costing a little more than twice that amount, had no yearly deductible and covered more than 50 percent of the 100 most popular drugs for less than a $20 co-pay. Should I need to take a medication, I could be paying much more for it with the original plan. Now I need to evaluate these two plans to see which one would best suit my present and near-future needs.
The good news is that once a year all of us have the opportunity to switch from one plan to another. Still, you want to know the benefits, and shortfalls, of each available plan.
One way around the high-cost of prescription drugs – and their side effects – is to improve your diet and lifestyle and work with your doctor to eliminate some of the prescription drugs you're taking. I've written a number of articles in Women's Health Letter with detailed information that can help you reduce or eliminate your need for pharmaceuticals. They cover headaches, ulcers, inflammation, high blood pressure, insomnia, and many other health problems.
Why not do both: explore the best prescription drug plan for you at this time, and reduce your need for some of these drugs in the future. All of my past articles, based on sound scientific studies, are available to subscribers of my newsletter at no cost. If you're not yet a subscriber, I invite you to become one today.
Please contact Gabriel Levitt (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Tod Cooperman, MD, 914-722-0116.