Each Medicare Plan is also associated with a collection of pharmacies. Each pharmacy must find drug suppliers. Plans can rank the same drug in different tiers, related to generic or brand name. Drug suppliers can ship in different amounts. The same drug in the same amount can have a different cost.
|Annual Premium and Drug Cost|
I charted 2017 drug costs from eleven pharmacies, in area code 65203, used by the three HMOs in Boone County, MO, for two drugs I use. The annual premium and drug costs range from zero for Essence to $600 for Coventry and AARP.
The full cost for each plan (Medicare and you) also varies. Coventry moves the most money and ARRP the least. Essence is about the average of the other two.
The portion you pay is fascinating.
|Portion You Pay|
You pay zero with Essence as Medicare pays the entire amount. AARP has you paying about half the costs. However half the cost of a lower full cost rate ends up pricing AARP and Coventry annual premium and drug costs the same.
Essence is performing the same service as the other two with no premium charge. Shipping an unrestricted amount of pills rather than a 30-day supply reduces shipping and handling costs (but reduces the option for a profit factor).
A savings of about $600 is made by using an in-network pharmacy (CVS Pharmacy and Schnucks). The remaining variation must be in the deals between Medicare, drug plans, drug suppliers, and pharmacies.
Medicare.gov must be searched each year to find the pricing for the next year for plans and for drugs. Users can pick the best plan(s) and hope their drugs will be included. Medicare.gov puts all of this information in one spot.
Again, print out the range of plans and pharmacies you may use. Then find an agent or broker to pick the best one for you for next year. The old time habit of picking a company for life is no more. It may not offer the plan you want for next year. Medicare.gov works well after you become familiar with using it and you get all the needed information in hand.