* Check whether the new plan you’re considering imposes more restrictions on your drugs than the plan you have now. If it does, you may have to switch to an alternative medication or ask your doctor to support your request for an exception to the plan’s rules.
* If your current Part D plan has this year covered any of your drugs that are not normally on its formulary, or has waived a restriction on any of your drugs, check whether you can continue receiving these drugs or must apply for an exception to the plan’s rules for next year, too.
* To stay in your current plan, you do not need to do anything. Your enrollment will automatically continue next year.
* To switch plans, simply enroll in the new one of your choice, either online on Medicare’s website or by calling the plan. You don’t have to disenroll from your current plan. Medicare will automatically transfer you to the new plan, with coverage starting Jan. 1. But to ensure a smooth transition—so that your new coverage is logged into Medicare’s pharmacy computer system by Jan. 1—Medicare recommends enrolling in the new plan by mid-December.
Patricia Barry is a senior editor for AARP Integrated Media and the author of “Medicare For Dummies” (Wiley/AARP, October 2013).