With just over a month left to go in the enrollment period for Medicare prescription drug coverage, the state Insurance Department is encouraging people 65 and older to review their current plans and shop around to see if there are better plans for them.
The plans are good for one calendar year.
Insurance Department director of consumer assistance, David Zimmerman, said the plans change every year. Zimmerman said it may not just be a premium cost issue – it could be what prescriptions are covered.
"Those plans can cancel covering a medication covered last year," Zimmerman said. "It can also change the assignments of tiers, so it will affect what you pay out of pocket. The only way to make sure you're getting a plan that covers all your medications at the best price is to go through this open enrollment every year."
Zimmerman said people can save money by looking at different plans. He said sometimes, those savings can be dramatic.
"Last year, we did a trial of keeping track of savings, if a person would have kept the same plan moving forward, compared to the plan they were put on," Zimmerman said. "In the small sampling we worked with, we saved North Dakotans over $1.5 million."
Zimmerman says a Kaiser Family Foundation study shows only about 15 percent of Medicare beneficiaries participate in the open enrollment.
"So we know there is a significant portion of the population that is paying way too much for their medications," Zimmerman said. "They could save if they would do this."
The open enrollment period ends December 7th.