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Medicare drug plan premiums drop 34%

The SilverScript Smart Rx plan, for example, is $7,20 a month. Open enrollment is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

COLORADO, USA — Medicare's annual open enrollment period begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. 

During this time of year, you can drop or switch your plan coverage. The experts at the State Health Insurance Assistance office (SHIP) said there are substantial savings for those willing to get online or make a phone call or two this year.

They pointed out that drug plan premiums are currently at historic lows, having now dropped an average of 34% over the last three years

"Those premiums are going down for the plans," said Lead Counselor Lauren Bell. "What you'll pay for your co-pay for your prescription is going to depend on what you take."

The key, Bell said, is to do a little homework.

"About three years ago, the prices were about $25, $20-$25 dollars for a drug plan was the lowest," Bell said. "Then it dropped to about $14-$15, and now this year we're going to have a plan for about $7."

That plan is the SilverScript Smart Rx plan, for $7.20 a month. To learn more about that plan, and the many others that may save you even more, Bell said you can call a SHIP counselor.

The SHIP phone number for all of Colorado is 1-888-696-7213. The caller needs to say or type in their county and get connected with their local SHIP office. 

The web address where people can find their local SHIP office is shiptacenter.org or  drcog.org/ship.

Also, if you are deciding on a Medigap "Supplement" plan vs. an "Advantage" plan, Bell said you need to make some educated guesses about the long-term state of your health.

"If you're thinking that in the future, that you might have either a chronic condition or a higher cost condition that you are going to go to the doctor a lot, a Medigap supplement will cover you more with those out-of-pocket costs," Bell said. "Whereas with an Advantage plan, you're going to be paying more of those out-of-pocket costs."

Bell said it's equally important to know that once you have an advantage plan, it is virtually impossible to switch over to a supplement plan that would cover more of your cost. She said the providers won't do it, and while you will pay a higher premium for a supplement, it could end up costing you less in the long run if you develop a health problem.

The Colorado Gerontological Society is offering Medicare Mondays, Medicare Wednesday "Lunch and Learns," and Medicare "On the Porch," a drive-by opportunity for you to go to the Colorado Gerontological Society's Denver Office at 1129 Pennsylvania St. and pick-up research they will have on the front porch of their building. They also are offering individual counseling in a partnership with the University of Colorado-Anschutz School of Pharmacy.

Find dates, times and phone numbers in the document here.

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