Friday, April 20, 2018
News Roundup

Save money by choosing right Medicare Part D plan

You've seen the ads on TV. • "Want to save money on your car insurance?" a voice booms. • You call your agent, are told you meet the requirements, change policies and save a bunch of money. • Just like that. Pretty slick. • Well, guess what? You can do the same thing with your Medicare insurance plan.

It's true, there won't be a TV pitchman to help by telling you which plan to pick and explaining exactly how much money you'll save. You can't just call your agent and order up a new plan. There are too many variables, because there are too many drugs.

You see, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.6 billion prescriptions were ordered or provided in the United States in 2010.

Those orders were placed from a list of the, according to the National Drug Code Directory, 35,574 human prescription drugs available.

So, just think ... prescription providers can cover, not cover or partially cover any of that dizzying number of drugs. To make the matter even more complex, a provider can change a drug's coverage status from year to year.

There's no way around it. You have to do the work yourself — with the help of this special Medicare open enrollment section and Medicare's Plan Finder — to customize the plan to fit your prescription needs.

But if you want to save money, perhaps lots of money, it's worth the time and energy.

Get facts before picking

It's surprising how much people do not know about Medicare.

A survey of 1,100 people over the age of 65, commissioned by Express Scripts, found a high degree of confusion without even getting into an Obamacare discussion. (Remember: You do not need, want — and, in fact, aren't even eligible for — Obamacare if you are on Medicare.)

Anyway, among the survey's findings:

• 26 percent of those 65 and older don't know how to choose a Medicare plan.

• 31 percent of current plan holders say they'd rather stick with the plan they have than deal with finding a better one.

In other words, a quarter of the respondents didn't know how to pick a plan in the first place and a third of them stick with the one they end up picking year after year even if they really didn't know what they were doing when they picked it. Too much work to figure out if it continues to meet their needs.

Wait. It gets worse. Sixty-five percent of the 1,100 people surveyed in August didn't even know that Medicare's open enrollment begins in October. And more than three-quarters of them didn't know that, thanks to health care reform, the coverage gap — the temporary limit (also called the "donut hole") on what a drug plan will cover after you've spent a certain amount — is narrowing a little every year and will be completely gone in 2020.

Despite this, more than half the people in the survey incorrectly believe that as a result of health care reform, they'll be paying more for their prescription drugs in the gap.

Don't be misinformed. Do your homework. Find the plan that best fits your prescription drug needs, and remember that might not be the same plan you had last year or the one you'll need next year. Don't automatically go for low premiums or monthly rebate checks without a thorough comparison because, yep, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Whether you choose original Medicare and supplemental policies, or an all-in-one Medicare Advantage policy, your essential sources of information are still the official Medicare & You handbook and, even better, medicare.gov, which allows you to search for plans according to your health needs and budget.

Ready to get started saving money? Let's go.

And, good luck.

News researchers Natalie Watson and Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Patti Ewald can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

ST. PETERSBURG — Beef jerky, mayonnaise and Altoids mints were the only edible things in view inside one of the houses. There was no running water. The refrigerator was empty. A bed sat on top of the deteriorating living room floor. Cigarette butts b...
Updated: 4 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 19

Thursday’s scoreboardBaseballDixie Hollins 8, Canterbury 0Northeast 13, Lakewood 3Calvary Christian 5, Berkeley Prep 2
Updated: 5 hours ago
Firefighters battle apartment complex fire in Tampa

Firefighters battle apartment complex fire in Tampa

TAMPA — Firefighters were battling a blaze at Captiva Club Apartments on Thursday night, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.According to video taken at the scene, the roof of one of the apartment buildings at 4401 Club Captiva Dr. ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Two Florida deputies shot, killed at restaurant in Gilchrist County

Two Florida deputies shot, killed at restaurant in Gilchrist County

Two Gilchrist County sheriff’s deputies were shot and killed at a restaurant about 3 p.m. Thursday.The deputies were at Ace China restaurant in downtown Trenton when a man shot them through the restaurant’s window, a Sheriff’s Office statement said.A...
Updated: 6 hours ago
The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

ST. PETERSBURG — Development of the city’s long-awaited pier advanced another step Thursday.The City Council approved a $15 million construction contract and additional money to design a waterside restaurant, build a playground and ferret out naming ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions.The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 at...
Updated: 7 hours ago
FHP: Distracted driver plunges more than 50 feet off I-275

FHP: Distracted driver plunges more than 50 feet off I-275

ST. PETERSBURG — A distracted driver walked away unscathed after his car plunged 50 feet off Interstate 275, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Thomas Highhouse, 61, of Pinellas Park, was driving his 2016 Chevrolet Camaro south on Interstate 275...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

The Lightning's Victor Hedman is a finalist for the second consecutive year for the Norris Trophy, given to the top defenseman in the league. The other two finalists are Drew Doughty of the Kings and P.K. Subban of the Predators, it was announced Thu...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Police: Knife-wielding burglar breaks into house, says ‘I’m the cops’

Police: Knife-wielding burglar breaks into house, says ‘I’m the cops’

LARGO — Detectives are seeking the public’s help in identifying a man who broke into a home early Thursday morning and confronted the owners with a knife.The incident took place about 3:40 a.m. at a townhouse at 7360 Ulmerton Road, according to Largo...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Deputies: Man broke into house, set it on fire and stole their dog

Deputies: Man broke into house, set it on fire and stole their dog

SEMINOLE — A Seminole man was arrested on allegations that he burglarized a home, set it on fire and stole the homeowner’s dog, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Austin Lang, 19, now faces numerous charges of burglary, arson and poss...
Updated: 8 hours ago