I looked up Part D drug plans for Arizona on Medicare.gov to find out how many stars they get. For 2012, there will be 30 Part D plans available in Arizona, and most of them get 2.5 or 3 stars, which is average. The star ratings go from 1 to 5, five being the best.
Only one Part D plan in Arizona gets 4 stars. This plan costs $47.20 per month and has a $320 deductible. I don’t know if this 4-star plan is worth $47.20 per month when you can get a 3-star plan with the same deductible for $15.80.
The $320 deductible means you pay the first $320 of your drug costs, and then the plan kicks in.
To compare plans, I put two drugs into the Medicare.gov Plan Finder: Crestor and Proventil HFA. The $15.80 plan covers Crestor for 20% of the retail cost of the drug after the deductible is met. So, once the $320 deductible is paid (after two months), the cost of Crestor would be $27.20. This plan doesn’t cover Proventil (which costs $57).
Most of the plans do not cover the Proventil inhaler. Most cover Crestor for a $45 co-pay (plans with a deductible and plans without). Only a couple of plans cover Proventil for a $27 co-pay.
The 4-star plan didn’t have any information on what its co-pays are, or what the drugs I entered would cost, so I can’t say if it’s worth $47.20 per month.
My conclusion is that 4 stars vs 3 stars is not a big deal. The key is: Which plan covers your drugs at the lowest overall cost for the year? The Medicare.gov Plan Finder will give you that info, but you need to figure out where to find it.
And I will say once again….”Why are there so many Part D plans? Why does it have to be so complicated? Is it saving Medicare money?”
Insurance companies manage Part D plans and negotiate prices with drug companies, but Medicare pays the bills – to the tune of $78 billion in 2010!!
Part D really bugs me because it is so complicated – and plans change each year. One of my clients called me to say her $25 plan premium is going to $71 for 2012. I have left messages for two other clients who are enrolled in that plan, which seemed like a good deal two years ago.
Medicare handed Part D over to insurance companies and made it ridiculously complicated. Why? Why? Why?