Tips on picking the cheapest and best for you medicare part d drug plan otc antiemetic uk

But in truth, Medicare’s options are intensely personal and change every year. No one plan is the cheapest for everyone. No one plan has the best benefits. You and your neighbor could join the same plan but experience very different outcomes.

This issue of LifeTimes is designed to help you sift through the maze. Charts list basic aspects of different plans. One story guides you through Medicare’s website — by far the best way to compare costs based on your particular circumstances. We’ll also briefly explain Medigap insurance and how it fits with your other Medicare options.

Part B covers outpatient care, doctor visits, physical therapy and other services. Part B is optional and costs most people a monthly premium that is deducted from their Social Security check. If you don’t sign up for Part B when you become eligible for Medicare, you may face a stiff penalty for the rest of your life if you need these services later.

People with higher incomes will pay a higher monthly premium.

Sometimes, health insurance from employers or unions will pay deductibles and copayments. Some people may cover them by buying Medicare supplement policies, also known as Medigap. Medigap policies tend to be costly, but if you suffer a serious illness, they can pay off.

Medicare Advantage provides alternatives to original Medicare. These are privately managed health care plans — usually an HMO or PPO — where you typically get service within a network of providers. For a more detailed explanation of plan types, consult the text that accompanies the health plan charts in this section.

The downside is being limited to a network or paying a hefty fee when you seek treatment outside a plan’s network. Say you want treatment at a specialty cancer center or top-notch heart clinic in another state. Then, original Medicare will be much cheaper because you can use it with doctors and hospitals all over the country.

Also, some health plans skimp on coverage for hospital or skilled nursing care. Pay close attention to those benefits when picking a plan. Don’t just choose the plan with the cheapest premium. Most health plans include drug coverage, but a few do not. The charts in this section list only Medicare Advantage health plans that cover drugs.

Unless you already have prescription drug coverage through the Veterans Affairs Department, a union, an employer or some other comparable source, it’s important to get some kind of drug coverage — either a Part D drug plan if you are on original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage health plan that covers drugs.

It won’t cost much — you can buy a Part D plan for less than $180 a year, and some health plans do not charge extra for drug coverage. If you get sick during the year, you may need an expensive drug and will be happy that you bought coverage.

If you do not sign up for drug coverage when you first become eligible, and you don’t have comparable drug coverage from some other source, Medicare will impose a stiff financial penalty when you eventually do need drug coverage. You may save $180 a year now by not buying a Part D plan, but the penalty could cost you several times that every year for the rest of your life.

You reach the coverage gap when the total actual cost of all your drugs (not just copayments and deductibles) for the year reaches $2,970, a threshold set by Congress. In other words, $2,970 is the maximum amount an insurer pays for drugs in a year.

Drug plan premiums do not count toward your out-of-pocket expenses, but deductibles and copayments do. Discounts in the gap also count. For example, if a drug costs $100 and you get a 60 percent discount, you will pay $40, but the full $100 will count toward getting you out of the gap and into catastrophic coverage.

A single person could qualify with a 2012 income of less than $16,755 and liquid assets of less than $13,070. A married couple could qualify with an income of less than $22,695 and assets of less than $26,120 (Liquid assets include stocks, cash and savings accounts. Ownership of homes and cars, for example, is not counted.)

People on Medicaid who receive subsidies for their Medicare coverage often get a form letter from the state telling them to pick the plan with the lowest premium. This is a blanket directive and doesn’t work for everyone. It does not take into account the drugs you take.

Florida’s SHINE program, administrated by the Department of Elder Affairs, offers volunteers who can help people over 65 and disabled people with insurance issues. They are trained to use Medicare’s website to help you find a personalized plan.