Number of Medicare Part D plan changes this yearNews added by Benefits Pro on November 6, 2013

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By Kathryn Mayer

There are a number of changes affecting prescription drug Part D plans this year.

And that makes reviewing options during Medicare open enrollment — taking place now through Dec. 7 — even more important, experts say.

“This year includes some significant changes in prescription drug Part D plans, so it’s important that Medicare participants examine their options closely,” said Paula Muschler, operations manager of Allsup Medicare Advisor.

See also: 5 tips for Medicare enrollment

Among the changes to Medicare drug plans are plan costs, plan drug coverage changes, changes to the donut hole, and new plan options and benefit parameters.

In addition to changes in existing plans, more than 200 new Part D plans are being offered this year, Kaiser Family Foundation reported, while nearly 50 plans left the market.

“Anytime a Part D plan closes down, Medicare participants who were in that plan have a valuable opportunity and should take advantage of this change to study their options. They may have some great new plans to choose from for 2014,” Muschler said.

For example, the average number of stand-alone Part D plans increased for 2014, with an average 35 plans now available to beneficiaries, according to Kaiser.

That’s a lot of plans to sort through, Muschler said. “Part D plans also can change from year-to-year, in terms of their drug formularies and other provisions — so it can get complicated pretty quickly.”

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