America is getting older, and so is Bergen County! New Jersey’s most populated county is home to a growing number of people who are ages 65 and older. In fact, according to the most recent Census numbers, Bergen County's senior population is steadily growing—from 15.1 percent in 2010, to 17.2 percent in 2018.

If you are one of them and are looking for ways to save on the ever-increasing cost of medications next year, you may consider adding a prescription plan known as “Medicare Part D.” By making medications more affordable, Part D plans can help you stay on track to achieve your 2020 health goals.

Choosing the plan that’s best for you can seem daunting at first, so familiarizing yourself with how Part D plans work is essential. First, compare how much you can expect to pay as you go through the “four stages” of a plan’s coverage, as the cost of your prescriptions will increase or decrease depending on the phase you are in. Then, find experts that can help you make an informed decision about the plan that will work best for you, and take time to learn how the changes happening in 2020 will impact your bottom line.

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Below is a brief summary of the changes that will affect each stage of coverage next year.

Deductible Stage: You may need to pay more before your plan kicks in.

A deductible is the amount you need to pay before your plan starts paying its share of the cost. Next year, the deductible could be as high as $435. That’s an increase of $20 from 2019.

Initial Coverage Stage: Your plan may cover more of the cost before you reach the “Donut Hole.”

During this stage, you pay a set amount for your medications. Your plan covers the difference. In 2020, plans may cover up to $4,020. That’s an increase of $200 from 2019.

Coverage Gap Stage: You will receive higher discounts for branded and generic medications.

You will receive a 75 percent discount when purchasing a brand-name medication. For example, if your medication costs $100, you will only pay $25. If you need a generic, you will never pay more than 25 percent of the total cost of the drug. In 2020, you will remain in this stage until the total cost of your medications is $6,350.

Catastrophic Stage: You will only have to pay a minimum amount.

Once you reach this stage, your costs will remain the same through the year. During this stage, you pay $8.95 for brand-name drugs and $3.60 for generics, or 5 percent of retail costs, whichever is higher.

 

Next Steps
If you are currently enrolled in a Part D plan, be sure to check the Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC) mailed by your plan. The ANOC details how these and other 2020 changes may impact your wallet next year. You can also go to roadmapformedicare.com for more detailed information about these changes, where you’ll find a free, easy-to-use tool that will help you compare plans and choose the one that works best for you.

Don’t let Open Enrollment pass you by. Compare plans now and choose the one that best fits your needs and budget — this may save you money next year.

 

Kelle Turner has more than 13 years of experience in pharmacy. She holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a Master of Business Administration degree from Drake University.