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Medicare Health and Drug Plans - Are You Paying Too Much?

Author: The Senior Citizens League(i) : Contact: SeniorsLeague.org

Published: 2020-09-30

Synopsis and Key Points:

Chances are high that most retirees are paying too much for their Medicare health and drug plans, says The Senior Citizens League (TSCL)..

The consequences of making the wrong choice can be very expensive, but virtually every area of the country has trained Medicare benefit counselors who work through State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP)

Prescription drug costs are the fastest growing expenditure that most people face in retirement, according to research by The Senior Citizens League.

Main Digest

With 1.2 million supporters, The Senior Citizens League is one of the nation's largest nonpartisan seniors' groups. Its mission is to promote and assist members and supporters, to educate and alert senior citizens about their rights and freedoms as U.S. Citizens, and to protect and defend the benefits senior citizens have earned and paid for. The Senior Citizens League is a proud affiliate of The Retired Enlisted Association. Visit www.SeniorsLeague.org for more information.

"Unless you match your needs to the lowest costing plan that specifically cover the drugs you take, or Medicare Advantage plan that includes the doctors and hospitals that you typically use in its network, you could be needlessly spending hundreds of dollars too much for your coverage," says Mary Johnson, a Medicare policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League. "For married couples, this can mean different health or drug plans for each of you," she notes. Yet surveys conducted by senior advocates, including The Senior Citizens League, indicate that only a small portion of Medicare beneficiaries ever shop around for better coverage at the lowest cost.

Prescription drug costs are the fastest growing expenditure that most people face in retirement, according to research by The Senior Citizens League. "Most retirees have other options that they don't even know about," Johnson says. Medicare's fall Open Enrollment period, which starts October 15th and runs through December 7th, is the time to learn about those other options, and to make changes to health and drug plan coverage.

"Drug and health plans change every year, and so does our health," Johnson notes. Since 2005, Johnson has volunteered as a Medicare counselor in her underserved area to help neighbors, friends and family navigate through dozens of choices, and to get matched up to optimal health and drug plans. "It's not uncommon to save hundreds of dollars in a single year," she says.

In 2019, out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs averaged more than $3,875 for the year, and that cost is growing by double digits. According to research by Johnson, out-of-pocket prescription drugs costs have increased 252 percent (about 12.6 percent per year) since 2000. "Nobody should be complacent and swallow that kind of increase" Johnson says. "This is not as difficult as it may seem," Johnson says. "There are people like me ready to help." Here are a few tips from Johnson on how to find better coverage:

(i)Source/Reference: The Senior Citizens League. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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