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Sat Oct 30, 2021, 06:20 PM

Why Aren't More People Comparison Shopping For Health Plans?

Why Aren’t More People Comparison Shopping for Health Plans?
Most Medicare beneficiaries don’t compare plans during open enrollment season, and may be paying more, or accepting more restrictions, than they should.

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Eunice Korsah, a retired nurse in Burke, Va., learned her yearly drugs and premiums would be $301 a year if she used a CVS or Giant pharmacy, but $1,125 if she took the same prescriptions to a Walmart.
Eunice Korsah, a retired nurse in Burke, Va., learned her yearly drugs and premiums would be $301 a year if she used a CVS or Giant pharmacy, but $1,125 if she took the same prescriptions to a Walmart. Credit...Kenny Holston for The New York Times
By Paula Span
Oct. 30, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET
One morning last month, Eunice Korsah, a retired nurse in Burke, Va., spent about half an hour on the phone being guided through the complexities of various plans for Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs.

Her current drug plan was being discontinued and the insurer wanted to move her into one with sharply higher premiums. “I decided, ‘No way,’” she said. But what to replace it with? She looked at the Medicare website for Part D plans available in Fairfax County and found 23, with monthly premiums ranging from $7.10 to $97.30. “There are so many choices, so I wanted someone to clarify them for me,” she said.

Jack Hoadley, a health policy researcher at Georgetown University, was on the other end of the call with Ms. Korsah. He has for two years volunteered with the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, the federally funded, free counseling service that helps Medicare beneficiaries find the coverage that’s best for them.

“Some very smart people just don’t know how Medicare works and get confused,” Dr. Hoadley said. For example, “it can make a $1,000-a-year difference if you’re willing to try several different pharmacies.”

Why Aren’t More People Comparison Shopping for Health Plans? https://nyti.ms/2Y4QSSY

There are SHIP programs available in every state:

https://www.shiphelp.org/

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Reply Why Aren't More People Comparison Shopping For Health Plans? (Original post)
Tomconroy Oct 30 OP
Diamond_Dog Oct 30 #1
Sherman A1 Oct 30 #2
enough Oct 30 #3
JustABozoOnThisBus Oct 31 #4
Lulu KC Oct 31 #5
El Mimbreno Nov 2 #6

Response to Tomconroy (Original post)

Sat Oct 30, 2021, 06:24 PM

1. If we had universal health care

that negotiated prices for drugs with Big Pharma, we could all be saved lots of $, time, and aggravation.

I may as well wish for a million dollars.

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Response to Tomconroy (Original post)

Sat Oct 30, 2021, 06:26 PM

2. We did so when my spouse went on Medicare

had help from an agency of some sort. When I went on it a few years later I just went with the one she had as it seemed to cover pretty much everything I needed.

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Response to Tomconroy (Original post)

Sat Oct 30, 2021, 06:46 PM

3. Maybe because they make the information frustratingly difficult to find actual

comparable numbers among plans. Also, I’ve noticed in the past 12 years they are revealing less and less useful information. I have no doubt this is purposeful.

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Response to enough (Reply #3)

Sun Oct 31, 2021, 05:15 AM

4. For Part D plans, it seems pretty easy to compare costs:

www.mymedicare.gov has a tool. Just enter the drugs you take, pick a few pharmacies in your area, and it presents a list of insurance companies and plans, with insurance costs, copay costs, total costs.

And, it keeps your info, so next year you only add drugs that are new to you, or delete those that you no longer take.

It's maybe the only likeable thing about Part D.

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Response to JustABozoOnThisBus (Reply #4)

Sun Oct 31, 2021, 05:58 AM

5. Thanks--

I need to do that.

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Response to Tomconroy (Original post)

Tue Nov 2, 2021, 10:42 AM

6. If the plan has an affiliated mail-order pharmacy...

Check their formulary list and prices. My Medicare Advantage plan has zero co-pay on tier 1 & 2 meds through mail-order. They supply all of my maintenance meds. Right-away meds I get from CVS.

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