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Picking the Best Medicare Drug Plan

Consumer Magazine Offers Tips to Analyze Drug Benefit Options

More Medicare Tips

Ready to get started? Consumer Reports recommends using Medicare's web site, www.Medicare.gov.

If you call Medicare's phone number ((800) 633-4227), be ready to hear recorded announcements before reaching a person, the article advises.

More tips:

  • Check plans' drug formularies. Formularies are lists of covered drugs.
  • Know that drug formularies can change anytime.
  • Ask about restrictions on certain drugs. For instance, some plans must "preauthorize" use of certain drugs.
  • Ask whether "step therapy" is used.

In step therapy, patients start by taking the least expensive drug that's appropriate for their condition. If that drug doesn't work, they try the second cheapest drug next, and so on until patients and their doctors find a drug that works.

Time Ticking Away

May 15 is the deadline for current Medicare participants to sign up for a Medicare drug plan.

Miss that deadline, and you'll pay for it. Your next window of opportunity is in November; your coverage won't start until January 2007, and you'll pay a late-enrollment fee.

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