by Kristin P. Sinclair – A Accu Tax – December 12, 2017
2018 Medicare Part D is PDP or Drug Coverage, and Medicare Part D has different stages. Some plans will have a deductible of $405.00 and then co-pays and co-insurance begins based upon your specific plan design, and cost sharing formulas. Some plans do not have a deductible to be met, and those plans could have a higher monthly premium or possibly some other format which helps to limit your exposure. But all Medicare Part D providers must meet specific guidelines and must have a plan that has been approved by Medicare. And must offer coverage for the 100 categories of medications that Medicare has determined that Medicare beneficiaries need to have coverage options for.
The initial Co-pays and co-insurance will apply until the true cost of medication covered by the Part D plan have reached $3,750.00 in 2018. Then the beneficiary goes into the next phase the Coverage Gap or Donut Hole. Your cost sharing then is a 65% discount off the cost of name-brand medication in the formulary. With your cost sharing you pay the other 35% for your medications while you are in the coverage gap. For generic drugs on the formulary you get a 56% discount of the price while in the donut whole, this means you pay the remaining 44% of the cost of your generic medication in the formulary while in the donut hole.
With your Medicare Part D Plan once your share of the out of pocket costs for the medications paid reaches, $5000.00 you enter the next stage which is called the Catastrophic Coverage Stage. In this stage, you will pay, $3.35 for generic drugs or 5% of the drug cost, and you will pay, $8.35 for name brand drugs or 5% of the drug costs on the monthly basis. Anyone who entered the catastrophic phase would see that phase throughout the balance of the annual period.
There are people who qualify for LIS or Low Income Subsidy and receive extra help from the government due to the limited amount of income and assets they have. Folks with LIS see different cost sharing levels than those who do not qualify for LIS benefits.
It is worth noting, that most Medicare Part D beneficiaries never leave the 1st stage or the co-pay stage during the annual period which occurs after any applicable deductible has been paid. Please also note that while those folks who do reach the gap or donut hole stage, those folks would pay 35% of the cost of your name brand medication while in the gap stage of coverage, the drug manufacture is also paying 35% of the cost of that same medication for your benefit. That additional amount the drug manufacture has been paying for you counts toward your out of pocket exposure, and can get you the Catastrophic stage sooner.
So Very Important – Your Formulary Choice
Why is it important to have your medication covered by your formulary for the annual period ? It is important so that you can minimize your out of pocket exposure when possible. If a medication is not covered by your formulary it is possible you could be responsible for all costs. An exception to your formulary could be agreed upon between your Medical care practitioner and your Medicare Part D provider. The exception requires your medical practitioner to provide supporting reason that an exception is a necessary option for your care and well being. Often the Medicare Part D Plan will want you to start with any available generic alternative at the more affordable rate. If necessary then to start a step by step method prior to using the more expensive medications exception. Once again your Doctor is going to be very involved in any request for an exception to a formulary.
These are good reasons to review your current medication(s) on an annual basis prior to the Annual Enrollment period of October 15th through Dec 7th. This is the time to choose the Medicare Part D Plan which best meets your medication needs for the up coming annual period. Your preferred pharmacy location should be convenient and included in your plan preferred pharmacy provider list. Since medications can change during the annual period, discuss your formulary with your health care practitioner(s). It is possible that an affordable alternative is already included in the formulary you have selected. Your Medicare Part D Plan is an important part of providing for your overall healthcare needs. Always take the time to choose wisely grasshopper!
Updated in Rock Hill SC and Charleston SC
by Kristin P Sinclair (803)329-0615
December 12, 2017