A hospital administrator in the
"There are 20 different plans you have to navigate," Graham, 74, said. "I shop it because they are always changing."
Open enrollment for Part D plans begins Saturday and runs to
Open enrollment is the time of year when seniors need to consider the prescriptions they are taking and how their current Part D plan may not be best for them next year due to changes in each plan, said
SHINE is service offered through the
Reviewing and potentially switching Part D plans is often a good idea, because insurers retool their approved drug lists, premiums bump up or drop, co-payments change and medications a senior takes often change.
Running comparisons may shave dollars -- often hundreds of dollars -- off total drug spending for the new year, she said.
The nine SHINE volunteers in
Last year SHINE volunteers had contact with 1,600
For help with Part D selection at an event, seniors need to bring a complete list of their medications (or the containers), the dosages and frequency of taking each medication, plus their
"For someone comfortable on a computer, they can do it on their own at Medicare.gov," she said.
At a seminar, a SHINE volunteer will plug in details of what medications the senior is taking, and the system will generate a report.
"It gives a comparison of three plans that are most cost-effective," she said.
The comparisons take into consideration premiums, deductibles, co-payments and medications taken, she said. The report will say what month the senior would finish paying a deductible on each of the three plans (if there are deductibles); which month the senior would reach the coverage gap known as the "donut hole" on each of the three plans; and which month the senior would emerge from the coverage gap and enter the "catastrophic" level of coverage, she said.
The numbers-crunching is all done for a senior, and that's a real plus because it can be confusing, said Graham, the retired hospital administrator.
"They take all the complexity out of the equation," Graham said. "They make it easy for you."
Invariably, he switches plans each year. So does his wife, Mary, 71.
"She has a different plan," he said. "Her needs are less."
For 2017 in
There are 18
For information about
Here are some key changes for next year with standalone plans:
»The average premium is
»The deductible (if there is one) will increase to
»The initial coverage limit is
»The "donut hole" coverage gap ends in 2017 when the total spending reaches
»During the "donut hole," seniors will receive a 60 percent discount next year on brand name drugs and a 49 percent discount on generic drugs. This year, seniors receive a 55 percent discount on brand name drugs and 42 percent discount on generic drugs.
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