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Medicare Open Enrollment: Oct. 15 - Dec. 7

What You Need to Know About Medicare Plans in 2012

Save money by taking the time to comparison shop

Figuring out your best deal

So how do you figure out what you'll pay for your own unique set of medications?

The most effective way is to use Medicare's online plan finder program. If you enter your ZIP code, the names of the drugs you take plus their dosages and how often you take them, this program automatically does the math to find the plan in your area that covers your drugs at the least overall out-of-pocket cost — including premiums, deductibles, copays and costs in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole. You can also call the Medicare help line at 1-800-633-4227 and ask a customer representative to do this search for you.

When comparing plans, keep in mind that costs aren't always the only consideration. On the plan finder you can also find out:

  • What kind of service to expect from any plan by looking at the quality rating Medicare gives it
  • Which pharmacies in any plan's network are convenient for you
  • Which plans offer pharmacies nationwide if you travel a lot
  • Which plans offer mail-order service
  • Which plans place "restrictions" on any of your drugs, meaning they require you to ask permission (with your doctor's help) before they will cover it.

Also, if you don't take any drugs right now, selecting the plan with the lowest premium will give you the protection of coverage at the least cost.

Next: Ways you can save on drugs in 2012. >>

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