Each year, millions of Americans are eligible to swap their current Medicare Part D Plan out for a new one. From October 15 to December 7, some of these patients rush to find a new plan that will save them money, cover all of their prescriptions and allow them to continue filling their prescriptions at their local neighborhood independent pharmacy. However, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, from 2006 to 2010, only approximately 12% of all eligible patients actually switched their Medicare Part D plan year to year.
Since choosing a Part D plan can be confusing, many seniors just stay with their current plan. If their plan worked out last year, why wouldn't this year be the same? The issue is that out-of-pocket costs for a patient can vary substantially on the same plan year to year. In a race to save the patient money, the first plan now might later be last.
In fact, a study recently released by the American Journal of Managed Care (AMJC), concluded that only 20% of enrollees would be on the cheapest available option if they remained on their current plan. This means that come the 2015 enrollment period, over 32 million patients would benefit from switching their Medicare Part D plan, yet if the current trend continues, only about 5 million will actually make the switch.
Independent pharmacists are in a powerful position to help change the status quo. It is already clear that the role of a pharmacist has been expanding beyond its traditions, and now there is another opportunity to provide better patient care. According to the study, the average patient would save over $700 a year by swapping their plans. Don't let Medicare Part D pickpocket you.