Medicare beneficiaries are scrambling to compare  2010 Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. The annual enrollment period (AEP) runs from November 15 through December 31st.
Insurance companies that offer Medicare Part D plans can adjust their plans on an annual basis. The AEP is the Medicare beneficiary’s opportunity to determine whether or not they would like to keep their current Part D plan or whether they should shop and compare Medicare Part D plans.

The “moving parts” of Medicare Part D

When comparing 2010 Medicare Advantage Plans it’s important to look beyond the monthly premium. There are several aspects that can affect how much you pay for your prescription drugs.

  • The monthly premium ia an obvious contributor to cost.
  • Whether or not the plan has an annual deductible can affect your prescription drug costs. 
  • Co-payments can vary from plan to plan.
  • What “tier” a drug is listed in can vary from plan to plan.
  • The plan’s drug formulary itself can affect your overall costs.

It’s important to understand the overall picture as it relates to your Medicare Part D costs. Just because a plan has, what seems to be a reasonable premium, it doesn’t mean that it will necessarily cost you the least amount of money.
Many 2010 Medicare Part D Plans have included an annual deductible. Deductibles for 2010 can be as much as $310.
It’s wise to look beyond the monthly premiums and c0-pays to see what drug tiers your prescriptions fall in. just because one plan categorizes a prescription as tier two, does not mean that another plan will do the same.

The dreaded donut hole

The coverage gap or donut hole can put a real dent in your budget. You reach the coverage gap after the total prescription costs paid by you and the plan reaches $2830. Some plans offer some degree of coverage in the donut hole. Be sure to take this into consideration if you expect to reach the donut hole.

Another area to compare is the mail order pharmacy benefit. You can generally save some money with a three month supply delivered through the mail.