When you sign up for Medicare Parts A and B, you’ll be insured for your medical and hospitalization costs. But Parts A and B don’t include Medicare Rx plans for prescription medications, which can become your biggest healthcare expense as you age.
The cost of prescriptions can be astronomical, especially for newer, brand-name drugs. And as you get older, you are more likely to develop chronic health problems that will require you to take medications long-term.
Medicare’s optional standalone prescription drug insurance is known as Medicare Part D. Part D prescription drug plans are sold by private insurance companies, and you must pay a premium every month for your coverage. There may be several plans and insurance companies to choose from in your state.
Different plans may require different deductibles and copays for the medications you take. Some give you extra benefits when you reach Part D’s notorious coverage gap, or “donut hole” – a period during which you typically have to bear a greater share of the cost of your prescription drugs. Good news is, the donut hole is going away in 2019.
Part D plans often have a network of preferred pharmacies that you must use to get your medications at the lowest cost. There may also be an option to get your prescriptions filled by mail. Your monthly premium for a prescription plan will depend on where you live and the plan you select.
Here are some of the top Medicare Part D Rx Plans for 2018:
Humana Medicare Rx Plans
Humana offers three basic prescription drug plans:
- Humanas Walmart Rx Plan offers a low monthly premium and low copays if you fill your prescriptions at Walmart or Sam’s Club.
- The Humana Preferred Rx Plan has a low copay amount on prescriptions filled at Walmart, Sam’s Club or Walgreens, and slightly higher copays on prescriptions filled at other network pharmacies.
- Humana Enhanced plan gives you widespread coverage, and there’s no deductible.
How do you choose the best drug insurance plans? A good place to start is to find out how much you can expect to pay for the medications you currently take. Insurance companies sort medications into groups, or “ tiers”, and different tiers come with different coverages and co-pays.
Common generic medications may be in a tier with a $2 co-pay, while the new name-brand drug you saw advertised on TV may cost much more. Humana publishes a list (known as a “formulary”) of the most widely prescribed drugs covered by its Part D plans. You can find the Humana Formulary for 2018 on Humana’s website.
Cigna Medicare Part D Plans
Cigna also offers Medicare prescription drug coverage, also know as Cigna Medicare Rx. Their Part D plans include the popular Cigna-Healthspring Rx Secure-Extra Plan.
This plan offers:
- No deductible to meet before your coverage begins
- A low copay at pharmacies in Cigna’s preferred network
- More than 30,000 pharmacies in the network
- Expanded coverage if you are in the Part D coverage gap
- Coverage for more than 3,000 medications
Cigna also offers a second plan, the Cigna-Healthspring RX Secure Plan. This plan provides more basic coverage than the Secure-Extra plan.
With the high cost of prescription drugs, your Medicare Part D plan can save you a lot of money. It’s important to do your research and try to choose a plan that covers the medications you need and includes your local pharmacy in its network.
You can use the Part D plan finder to compare plans and costs in your area.