Be ready with Medicare Part D answers

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Be the go-to resource for patients’ open enrollment questions

In brief:

  • Medicare beneficiaries often pay more than necessary for prescription drugs.
  • By helping patients compare plans, your pharmacy can support patients, show expertise and build loyalty.

Help your patients understand Medicare Part D plans

Only about 10% of Medicare Part D beneficiaries switch plans each year.1 And, only 13% of Part D patients go to their pharmacy for information on the program.2 Those are costly mistakes.

You can prove your value to patients during this year’s open enrollment. And help them get the best Part D plan to possibly save them money.

One study found that when using a Medicare Part D plan comparison tool, patients saved more than $1,100 on average.

By using the free Medicare Plan Finder or a service such as iMedicare or PrescribeMedicare, you can guide patients through the process and find savings for them.

Start early to advertise your pharmacy’s help during open enrollment, October 15 to December 7. Then schedule appointments and take patients through the process of comparing plans.

Follow these steps:

  1. Check all drugs. Have a complete list of the drugs patients are taking. Patients may be filling prescriptions at other pharmacies.
  2. Ask what is important. Don’t assume patients only want the lowest cost. Patients may want:
    • The same plan as a spouse
    • Personalized service, and not mail order
    • Stable costs throughout the year, such as a plan with additional coverage during the donut hole
  3. Explain options. You may not steer patients to a particular plan. But you can explain what a preferred network is and ask whether they want to see plans that include your pharmacy.
  4. Review medications and formularies. See where a patient’s current prescriptions fall within plan formularies, and whether an alternative, such as a generic, could save them money. This is an opportunity to show your knowledge. Comparison tools will help you identify options.
  5. Keep it simple. Talking about premiums, co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles can make patients’ heads spin. Keep it simple.
  6. Detail what they can expect to pay at different times of the year. This includes when a patient enters the donut hole and when catastrophic coverage kicks in.
  7. Print a plan comparison and review it with them.

Show patients the difference between what they would pay by simply sticking with their current plan and savings they could receive. They will see some of the great value you provide.

Note: The information provided here is for reference use only and does not constitute the rendering of legal or other professional advice by McKesson. Readers should consult appropriate professionals for advice and assistance prior to making important decisions regarding their business. McKesson is not advocating any particular program or approach herein. McKesson is not responsible for, nor will it bear any liability for, the content provided herein. 

1 “Inattention and Switching Costs as Sources of Inertia in Medicare Part D,” Florian Heiss et al., National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 22765, October 2016. LINK
2 “Impact of an Open Enrollment Service on Costs for Medicare Part D Beneficiaries,” Chelsea E. Leonard et al., Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, May-June 2017. LINK
3 “Looking for Lower Medicare Drug Costs? Ask Your Pharmacist for the Cash Price,” Susan Jaffe et al., Kaiser Health News, May 30, 2018. LINK