As reported in an earlier blog post, I had taken advantage of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment opportunity to select a new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan for my 80+ year old mom. The new plan promised to deliver the best value (lowest out-of-pocket expenditure) for her particular prescription drug needs.
After you had signed up for a new Part D prescription drug plan during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment (Oct 15-Dec 7) last year, the “Welcome New Member” package should have shown up at your house a couple of weeks later. You should have looked through all the documents and separated out your new ID card. On January 1, 2018, your new Part D prescription drug plan became active and your old one could be thrown in the garbage. Much of the information in the printed package you received is also available online.
Beginning of the Year Tasks for New Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
When you sign up for a new Part D prescription drug plan, there are certain tasks that need to be done at the beginning of the new year. While the steps given below are specific for my mom’s new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the tasks are basically the same for any Medicare Part D plan.
Step 1: Find out how to set up an online account for drug management on the drug plan’s website. (see figure below)
As you can see in the “For Members” link above, there are many useful pieces of information about my mom’s new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan that she can access online. For now, I will click on the “Get Started” link shown above and proceed to the next step to ensure that my mom gets the drugs she needs when she needs them.
Step 2. Online prescription drug management website for mom’s new Medicare Part D plan.
I am now on the new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan’s prescription drug management website (CVS/caremark). I click on the “New to Caremark.com? Register Now” link (shown with a red arrow in the figure above) where I input all of my mom’s identifying details and set up a user name and password for return visits.
The first order of business is to either transfer or create new prescription drug orders on the preferred mail order or retail pharmacies associated with my mom’s new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Remember that you will only realize the lowest prices if you use the plan’s preferred pharmacies. Because mail order is cheaper than retail for my mom’s new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, all of my mom’s “maintenance” drugs will be obtained from the mail order pharmacy. It is important to look at prices at both mail order and retail pharmacies, because with some plans, retail out-of-pocket costs might be cheaper than mail order out-of-pocket costs.
A request for new prescriptions can be either initiated at the pharmacy or directly from my mom’s doctors. Once all of my mom’s prescriptions are at the right preferred pharmacies, I will put them all on automatic refill and monitor them regularly. I also gave a credit card account number for any copays that had to be paid by my mom.
A Final Note: Look Out For Medicare Rule Changes
After requesting the first new prescription from my mom’s mail order pharmacy, I discovered a new Medicare rule change that could have caused mail order pharmacy delivery headaches if I hadn’t been vigilant. From past experience, I knew that once the prescription was at the mail order pharmacy, the next step was to simply wait for the shipment to get to my mom. The Medicare rule change (affecting all 2018 Medicare Part D plans) demanded that the mail order pharmacy get permission from the recipient before shipping the medication. In my mom’s new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, every medication shipment must be proceded by an acknowledgement that the recipient does in fact want the medication.
Giving approval before shipment may be a change for you if you’ve always used mail order pharmacies in the past. If you fail to give the required permission in a timely fashion, your medications will be delayed and cancelled altogether if you ignore repeated permission-to-send requests. It is therefore important to be sure you have given your mail order pharmacy the best way to reach you, so you don’t miss the permission-to-send request. Medicare initiated this extra step because many prescription drugs were being sent out to healthcare consumers who no longer needed them.