Open Enrollment ended December 7th, this past Saturday, and unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you cannot enroll in Part D until next October. I have received calls from Medicare beneficiaries this week who are flabbergasted, no, violent. I have been yelled at, hung up on, and cussed at.
Frankly, this does not faze me, but it did make me want to write a blog to help people understand their options if they have missed out on Part D Enrollment. Below are a few ideas on how to ease the pain of paying for your prescriptions out-of-pocket. Enjoy!
Search the keywords “Prescription Coupons” in your search engine and hundreds of pages pop-up offering coupons on every drug imaginable. You can also research your specific drug by typing “‘Drug Name' Coupons” into your search engine.
Another approach is to contact the company that sells your drug and ask if they have any coupons they can mail to you. Most companies have coupons or good deals available on their websites, as well. It may seem too easy, but sometimes it's the easiest solutions that work.
Prescription Assistance Programs
There are a variety of programs like these, some being state specific. These programs are not insurance, but they do help with the costs of prescription drugs.
You have to apply and be eligible to qualify for an assistance program. Once you are in, you will typically receive a membership discount card that you can use to receive discounts at pharmacies.
The one tricky thing concerning these programs is that you may not qualify for Part D after you enroll in an assistance program. These programs are truly for those in desperate need who cannot afford their prescription drugs or afford Part D deductibles or premiums. There are also senior specific programs, as well as programs that only people under 65 can enroll in, so it is important that you check before applying.
One program I found after a mere ten minutes of research is RXassist.
Big grocery stores such as HEB and Walmart offer pharmacy discount programs (I live in Central Texas, so we have HEB-but I am sure there are competitive grocery stores in other states as well). By enrolling in these programs, you can get some (not all) of the prescription drugs you use at highly discounted prices. There are small, initial fees that you have to pay to enroll in these programs, but you will be able to receive prescription drugs for extremely discounted prices ($5 for a 30 day supply at HEB). Walmart also has a competitive program with some drugs listed for $4.
As you can see, there are options. Of course my first advice would be to not yell at your agent or hang up before they have a chance to help you. You might not even understand your situation. There is a chance you could qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Qualifying circumstances are usually things such as moving out of a service area, involuntarily being dropped from your Medicare Advantage Plan, or other extraneous circumstances that are out of your control.
While I wish I could magically wave my wand and fix the situation, it is what it is. Several analogies are: not filling your voter registration card out in time for an election, applying for a scholarship or grant after the due date, or submitting a work project late. There are reasons for deadlines, and it's pointless to blame yourself, your agent, or the government. Mistakes happen, but luckily there are the above mentioned resources for Medicare beneficiaries to lean on when they forget to enroll in Part D.
Just to be clear, I am not a Part D agent. So, if you want more details on Part D, get in contact with an agent authorized to sell Part D.