Locally, thousands of seniors are expected to lose their current
"We are already getting calls from folks who got the notices that their plan is ending. They're somewhat panicked," said
Although final numbers will not be released until mid-October,
A number of Part D prescription drug plans also are disappearing next year.
"Four (prescription drug) plans are going away completely. That's significant," said
That's why it's imperative that seniors look closely at their current plan during this year's
"Think of this like an annual checkup with your primary care doctor, just like with a physical. Every year, substantive changes (to
Seniors should carefully read their annual "Notice of Change" letter from their current providers, which outline any changes for 2017. Those letters, which usually arrive in mailboxes in September, could include changes in premiums, deductibles, covered medications, even doctors.
Annual changes among
"Private companies that offer
Even if your Part D provider isn't leaving
Another 2017 difference: The maximum deductible for prescription drugs will be as high as
By comparing Part D plans, individuals could see "significant out-of-pocket cost savings," said Patel, noting that about 80 percent of beneficiaries save an average of about
"We probably find one in 10 patients where we need to contact their prescriber because of a potentially dangerous situation," said Patel. For instance, it could be a sleeping medication whose side effect is a high level of morning drowsiness, putting seniors at increased risk for falling.
In those cases, UOP counselors will send a notification to the person's physician, suggesting a change.
Patel has been running the
One thing that doesn't change during
"It's only a tiny percentage of agents who are rogue ... who talk (seniors) into signing up for a health plan that is not right for them," said
Seniors should not feel pressured by "early-bird discounts" or special offers to switch
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