If Medicare recipients have a grumble, it generally is about the high costs of prescription drugs - but in 2017 there is a stark choice between two ultra low cost plans that promise drug coverage for about $20 monthly. Are there hitches? You bet. These plans are not for everybody but for those whom they suit, they may be a best buy.
Meanwhile, the price of more traditional Part D plans has vaulted skyward, as insurers have wrestled with the steady rise in drug prices. In 2015, AARP's MedicareRX Preferred plan - with zero deductible - cost $50.19 per month. In 2016 that jumped to $60.79. For 2017, the plan costs $71.30. Note: this is a very rich plan - but is it too rich for some?
Enter for 2017 the new AARP MedicareRX Walgreens plan - $22.40 per month. That's $268.80 for 2017, compared to $855.60 for the Preferred plan. There's a $400 deductible. Tier 1 generics are free.
The AARP Walgreens plan is not the cheapest. At least in some zips, it is bested by the well-established Humana WalMart Rx Plan at $17 per month, $204 per year (also a $400 deductible). That's the leader in this niche, said experts.
Other, huge pharmacy operations may unveil similar plans, but not this year. For 2017, the choice is Walgreens vs. WalMart.
Should you be in the WalMart plan? Or Walgreens? Not so fast. Maybe, but also maybe not for either. And know that potentially many thousands of your dollars may hang in the balance of your decision. Drugs can get pricey, fast, and that is a lesson learned painfully by many Medicare recipients.