How Do I Find the Best Medicare Part D Drug Plan?
Originally published November 2018. Updated October 2019 with information for the 2020 Annual Enrollment Period
Medicare Part D is your prescription drug coverage, and it goes by many names. So, if you see any other terms, like Prescription Drug Plan or PDP, you’ll know it’s referring to your drug coverage with Medicare.
There is only one time of the year when you can make changes to your Medicare Part D drug plan, and it's called the Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP. (So many acronyms, we know!)
The AEP lasts from October 15-December 7 each and every year.
Reviewing your drug plan during AEP is extremely important, because drug plans are not standardized. This means that your plan will likely make changes to the following:
- Monthly premium
- Deductible and coinsurance
- Pharmacy networks
- Drug formularies and drug tiers
This all boils down to one thing: reviewing your drug plan can potentially save you money. If you don’t review your drug plan, there’s a chance that your drug prices for the following year could be much higher than you expected.
Finding the Best Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
The best Medicare drug plans are going to vary by zip code. There are over 42,000 zip codes in the United States, which makes it difficult for us to make a blanket statement about the best drug plan on the market.
In addition, the types of prescriptions you take are going to be the single largest influence on your total costs for the year.
For example, a random sample comparison that we did showed the cheapest plan being $174 and the most expensive plan being $1,567. That’s a huge difference, and that’s exactly why it pays to price shop!
Medicare.gov has updated its plan finding tool for 2019, and while in many ways, it's easier to use, in some ways, it's harder. It used to be easy to see which was going to be the least expensive for the year, but now, some basic math is required.
If you’re somewhat tech-savvy, all you need to do is go to Medicare’s Plan Finder tool and start by entering your zip code. The system will prompt you through the rest of the steps. When it gives you your plan options, sort by "Lowest drug cost" and add the monthly premium to the Estimated yearly drug costs.
We’ve found that many individuals get stuck in certain areas and don’t know what everything means, so we made a little cheat sheet for you! It’s a very simple step-by-step tutorial on exactly what buttons to click and what everything means for you.
The Best Drug Plan With the Lowest Price
Once you enter your zip code, the prescriptions you take, and your preferred pharmacies, you’ll get this big list of drug plans, probably somewhere between 20-40 plans. They are automatically sorted by lowest premium, but the plan with the lowest premium may not be the lowest cost plan for you.
Premiums are only one part of your healthcare expenses. You also have deductibles, coinsurance, and copays.
Don’t make the mistake of choosing a plan because it has the lowest monthly premium only to find out later that your deductible is absurdly high. Instead, you want to find the plan that will have the lowest out-of-pocket costs for the year.
What you’re trying to do is find a drug plan with the lowest annual cost and the best rating.
Sometimes, a low rating can mean that a company has bad customer service or their rates go up unexpectedly in the middle of the year.
A company with a 4 or 5-star rating often means that their customer service is reliable, and the rates tend to stay the same. There are always exceptions to this rule, but this is the general rule of thumb.
It’s somewhat of a balancing act, but try to choose the plan that has the cheapest annual cost with the highest overall star rating.
Get Help With Your Medicare Part D Drug Plan
We give all of this information to you so that you feel empowered and can take charge of your insurance options and costs.
However, you should always know that you don’t have to navigate Medicare – or your drug plan – by yourself. That’s why we exist!
We have a team of licensed agents that run drug comparisons all the time. We’re very familiar with how the system works, what you need to look out for, and which plan will suit you the best.
If you would like help with your Medicare drug plan, please contact us. Our help is always free, and there are no strings attached.
- How to Compare Medicare Part D Drug Plan Costs
- Medicare Drug Coverage Penalty: How the Part D Penalty For Not Enrolling Works
- What If I Missed Medicare Part D's Open Enrollment Period?
- How do I know if my Medicare Part D Drug Plan enrollment went through?
- How Do I Appeal If My Medicare Part D Drug Costs Go Up?
Our team of dedicated, licensed agents can help you as little or as much as you need. Whether it’s answering a few questions about Medicare or creating a comprehensive Medicare Planner with you, we are your Medicare Allies.