Medicare Part D Open Enrollment

Medicare Part D Open Enrollment Kicks Off Today

10.15.13 | By

Across the nation, millions of seniors and disabled Americans have access to innovative medicines through the Medicare prescription drug program (Part D). This year, we’re celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the program’s enactment, as well as taking note of the important feedback provided by those individuals who rely on it. In short, the December anniversary presents an opportunity to reflect on the positive and far-reaching impact of Part D, while assessing areas for improvement going forward.

Today kicks off the annual Open Enrollment season, in which Part D beneficiaries (and those newly eligible for coverage) are able to sign up for a new plan or switch from an existing one. A recent survey from Medicare Today found that 90 percent of seniors are satisfied with their Part D coverage, with 95 percent of seniors reporting that it is convenient – a six percent increase compared with 89 percent in 2006. Without question, the program is a beacon of hope and efficiently delivers the services and treatments that it promised in 2003.

While the program is succeeding by nearly every metric, we all must strive to reach 100 percent satisfaction. Since its implementation, Part D has become widely available, with at least 28 plans offered in every region of the country. It is also cost effective, saving seniors nearly $300 in projected out-of-pocket costs, according to a study of 2006-07 data finding annual savings on out-of-pocket costs for those who switched plans (not projected). With a $31 average monthly premium expected for 2014, average premiums will be less than half of the $64 originally projected.

As policymakers debate broader fiscal issues, it's also worth noting Part D's overall cost savings performance. The non-partisan Congressional Budget office (CBO) recently announced a major change to its scoring methodology to reflect evidence that increased prescription drug use leads to offsetting reductions in Medicare spending for other medical services. CBO figures also show that total Part D program costs are on track to be $348 billion (or 45 percent) less than initial 10-year projections.

For those looking to sign up for or change a plan, there are several great resources that can help you find the plan that best fits your needs:

  • Visit Medicare.gov or call1-800-MEDICARE for more information about the Part D program and available plans
  • The Medicare Plan Finder allows you to search for available plans online by entering your 5-digit zip code
  • Request a mail or electronic copy of the Medicare & You Handbook to learn everything you need to know about the Medicare Part D Open Enrollment period

Are you on Medicare Part D? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience, especially as it relates to navigating plan options. We can all be better informed when it comes to working with the program, and firsthand experiences are the best source of learning from one another. As always, feel free to share additional thoughts or perspectives in the comments section below. 

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