Seniors may want to shop around for cheaper prescription drug coverage

By Maryalene LaPonsie on July 18th, 2014

Individuals with Medicare health insurance coverage may want to take a second look at their prescription drug plan. A review of Part D plans in all 50 states revealed significant differences in consumer out-of-pocket costs.

Conducted by health insurance information site HealthPocket, the analysis discovered premium, co-payment and co-insurance requirements can dramatically change the cost of prescription drugs for plan members.

The findings on low cost health insurance prescription plans

To come to its findings, HealthPocket first evaluated the list of prescription drugs covered by all Medicare Part D plans in the U.S. and identified the top 50 drugs sold in the country. For each drug, the website estimated how much an individual could expect to pay in premiums and prescriptions. Then, the results were combined for all of the 50 drugs covered by each plan.

Overall, the highest cost Part D plan in the country was 155 percent more expensive than the lowest cost plan. The average difference between high and low cost plans in each state was 109 percent.

Interestingly, the high cost options typically covered fewer of the 50 top prescriptions than the lower cost alternatives. The lowest cost option in each state covered an average 47.6 of the popular drugs while the highest cost plans would pay for only 39.9 of the top drugs on average.

Humana tops low cost options

Medicare beneficiaries looking for cheap health insurance options may want to look at Humana Enhanced prescription drug plans. These plans are the lowest cost option in 26 states and will pay for 48 out of 50 of the top drugs.

On the other end of the spectrum are Aetna Medicare Rx Premier plans. These were the highest cost prescription drug plans in 37 states while only covering 41 of the top 50 prescription medications.

However, in terms of absolute lowest price, the AARP Medicare Rx Preferred plan in Arizona takes top honors. The nation's most expensive Part D plan is the Health Alliance Medicare Prescription Plan - Basic, sold in Illinois. This plan costs 155 percent more than the Arizona option.

Seniors hoping to shop for lower health insurance quotes and a cheaper Part D plan will have to wait until Oct. 15. That marks the start of the next Medicare open enrollment period. Individuals will have until December 7 to choose from Medicare Advantage health insurance plans or opt for original Medicare with a separate Part D plan for their prescription drug coverage.

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