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Medicare Mishap: Check out Drug Costs Now or Pay More Later

In January, at a recent family gathering, Uncle Joe said, “I just renewed my Medicare drug plan. The changes were no big deal.” A few months later, Uncle Joe was irate. “What has Medicare done?  My copayments are outrageous. Last year I paid $45.52 for these yellow pills. This year the I’m paying $97 for the same pills.”  

Uncle Joe needs to know that Medicare didn’t do anything. It was his drug plan. It changed the tier of his medication. Unfortunately, Uncle Joe has had to live with these charges since January. But he will have a chance to make a change during the Open Enrollment Period, that runs from October 15 through December 7.  

This time around, he isn’t going to trust the agent. Uncle Joe is going to check out the changes himself. Every fall, drug plans must send out an annual notification of changes to the plan and evidence of coverage (summary of benefits) prior to October 15. Medicare also updates the information in the Plan Finder (at A careful review of this information will reveal any drastic changes in coverage or cost of your medications. If the changes aren’t acceptable, there’s time to find a better plan and switch. 

PS This guidance applies to Medicare Advantage plans as well. These plans must send updated information. During Open Enrollment, those in the plan should review the services they will need, compare the benefits and costs to other plans, and make a switch, if necessary. 

Last updated: 08-27-2018