If you need some help with this or if you don’t have Internet access to compare the plans yourself, ask your kids, grandkids or a trusted computer-savvy friend to help you, or you can call Medicare at 800-633-4227 and a customer service representative will do it for you over the phone for free.
Another resource that you can call on for help is your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides free one-on-one Medicare counseling in person or over the phone.
They also conduct seminars during the open enrollment period at various locations throughout each state. To find the contact information for your local SHIP visit shiptalk.org, or call the eldercare locator at 800-677-1116.
Smaller donut hole
You also need to know that Medicare’s “donut-hole” coverage gap will shrink a little more next year. In 2013, Medicare Part D beneficiaries that hit the coverage gap will receive a 52.5 percent discounts on brand-name drugs, and a 21 percent discount on generic medications.
For 2013, the coverage gap begins when your total drug cost exceeds $2,970 (that includes your share and the insurer’s share of the costs) and ends when combined spending is $6,733. After that, your Part D plan usually covers around 95 percent of your remaining drug costs for the year.
Low income assistance
Also, be aware that if you’re a low-income beneficiary and your annual income is under $16,755 or $22,695 for married couples living together, and your assets are below $13,070 or $26,120 for married couples, you may be eligible for the federal Low Income Subsidy known as “Extra Help” that pays Part D premiums, deductibles and copayments.
For more information or to apply, call Social Security at 800-772-1213 or visit socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.