Alert
Close

Top the Treasure Hunt leaderboard by 5 p.m. Friday to win a $100 gift card! Learn more

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
AARP Games Tournament

REAL POSSIBILITIES

AARP Real Possibilities
Car buying made easy with the AARP Auto Buying Program

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP Books

Medicare for Dummies book cover

Get the answers you need, from Patricia Barry, AARP's Ask Ms. Medicare

Most Popular

Viewed

share your Thoughts

Reader stories help us fine-tune our education efforts and strengthen our calls for action on issues that matter most to you. We read and learn from every story and may use yours (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire other readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

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

En español | If you have Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, the chances are very high that this year you've been paying a lot more for your medications than you needed to.

Sign up for AARP's Health Newsletter.

That's because so few enrollees bother to compare the Part D drug plans available to them. As a result, in 2011 fewer than 7 percent are in the Part D plan that offers them the lowest out-of-pocket costs, according to a recent analysis.

Comparing plans during open enrollment is the best way to ensure that you don't miss out on your best deal for 2012, which could produce savings of several hundred dollars next year, especially if you take a lot of medications.

But be warned: This year's seven-week open enrollment period begins Oct. 15 and ends at midnight on Dec. 7 — a deadline three weeks earlier than in previous years.

If you enroll in a different plan during this period, coverage in your current plan will automatically end at midnight on Dec. 31 and your new coverage will begin Jan. 1.

If you choose to keep your current plan (and it is still offered in 2012), you don't need to take any action — your enrollment automatically continues next year.

Medicare Part D prescription drug plans in 2012

All Part D plans can change their costs and coverage each calendar year. So pay attention to the "Annual Notice of Change" you should have received from your current plan in September. This spells out any changes for 2012 — in premiums, deductibles, copayments or coverage — and may contain good news or nasty surprises.

Among "stand-alone" Part D drug plans — the kind you have if you're enrolled in traditional Medicare rather than a Medicare Advantage plan — a few that operated in 2011 will no longer be available in some states in 2012.

If you're in one of these plans, you may be automatically enrolled in another offered by the same insurance company, if available, or you can switch to a different plan. There are still plenty of choices in each state, ranging from 25 in Alaska and Hawaii to 36 in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Overall, monthly premiums for stand-alone plans in 2012 will range from $15.10 to $131.80. On average, premiums will fall slightly, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. But some premiums will rise significantly.

For example, the country's most popular drug plan, AARP MedicareRx Preferred, run by UnitedHealthCare, will increase its monthly premiums by an average of 14 percent, ranging from 20 cents in Arizona to $8.10 in California. UnitedHealthCare spokesman Matthew Burns says that the plan "covers more branded drugs than most of our competitors and has no deductible," adding that on average "our premiums for 2012 are slightly lower than 2010 levels," given that they fell in most states in 2011.

Next: Medicare Advantage plans in 2012. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Woman trying on glasses in optometrists shop

Members save up to 60% off eye exams and 30% off eyeglasses at Pearle Vision.

Prescription medication spilling out of bottle

Members get a free Rx card from AARP® Prescription Discounts provided by Catamaran.

AARP/Walgreens Wellness Bus Stops in Clarksdale, MS

Members can get exclusive points offers from Walgreens and Duane Reade.

Caregiving walking

Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.