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Are you paying too much for your medications?

Every year, Medicare’s open enrollment period is October 15 – December 7. It can be tempting – and easier – for Medicare beneficiaries to simply stick with their current coverage. But that could be a mistake.

Medicare health and drug plans can make changes each year – things like cost, coverage, and which providers and pharmacies are in your networks. A medication you take may be covered in your prescription drug plan this year, but it might not be next year because drug plans change from year-to-year.

If you’re not reevaluating your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan every year, you may be paying too much for your medications.

Medicare beneficiaries should read their annual Notice of Change and review their health and prescription drug plan options for 2020 during the open enrollment period. Insurers must notify enrollees of any plan changes for the coming year before the end of September. People should read their Notice of Change carefully, compare their current plan with other available plans, and change to a different plan during open enrollment if it better meets their current needs.

Medicare health and prescription drug costs can vary widely between plans for the same drug or service. During Medicare open enrollment, some people may be able to save hundreds of dollars on out-of-pocket costs just by changing to a different plan.

The N.D. Insurance Department holds annual enrollment events across the state to help people in Medicare determine the best Medicare Part D prescription drug plan for them. Last year the department estimates it saved North Dakota Medicare beneficiaries attending these events more than $1.7 million.

Enrollment events are planned for two days in Minot, and one day in Williston and Bismarck. Individuals will be helped on a first come, first served basis, so be sure to go early.

Williston

Tuesday, Oct. 22

8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

ARC, 822 18th St. E

Minot

Wednesday, Oct. 23

8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

and

Thursday, Oct. 24

8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Sleep Inn & Suites, 2400 10th St. SW

Bismarck

Friday, Oct. 25

8 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Quality Inn, 1030 E. Interstate Ave.

If you are not able to attend an enrollment event, contact the State Health Insurance Counseling (SHIC) program for a free drug plan comparison by calling 701-328-2440 or 800-247-0560. Or, visit Medicare.gov to complete a comparison.

To complete a Medicare Part D plan comparison at one of these events, or by phone or online, you will need a list of your medications, including dosages and frequency; your Medicare card; and the full name of your current plan.

Take the time to review your Medicare options and change your health plan and prescription drug plan for the upcoming year if it makes sense to do so.

A good rule of thumb for open enrollment is to look at the four C’s: cost (premiums and cost-sharing); coverage (Are your current health care providers in network? Are your prescription drugs covered?); convenience (Are in-network providers and/or the plan’s preferred pharmacies nearby?); and customer service (Medicare health and prescription drug plans are rated from poor to excellent on various aspects of customer service).