Omahan Stephen Fulton says he will save about $3,000 next year by switching to a different Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
He found the savings by having his prescription plan reviewed by someone with Volunteers Assisting Seniors. The group provides Senior Health Insurance Information Program services in a five-county area that includes Omaha.
SHIIP groups across the state have scheduled about 200 sessions from now through Dec. 7 to help people review their general Medicare benefits or Part D plans.
Fulton, 62, has a type of cancer called multiple myeloma and takes more than a dozen medications. The terms of his existing plan are changing in 2016, and it no longer will include one of his medications on its list of covered drugs.
“If you don’t check those things every year,” he said, insurance companies “will switch up on you, and you won’t have the same coverage that you had the last time.”
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SHIIP workers reviewing benefits for one woman who uses a prefilled insulin pen found that if she had stayed on the same Part D plan in 2016, it would have cost her $16,000 more than the least-expensive plan will cost, said Alicia Jones, Nebraska’s SHIIP coordinator.
“This year, especially, I’d really encourage everyone to review, just because we’re seeing such big differences in the premiums,” Jones said. “I’m expecting to see some benefit differences, as well.”
The savings realized by most people who review their plans at SHIIP events range between $200 and $2,000, she said.
Once it’s January, she said, there aren’t many options to help find a different plan.
Fulton has been dealing with his cancer for 10 years and is on disability. “The back pain is what slows me down more than anything,” he said.
Fulton worked for Lozier Corp. for 18 years — mostly in the warehouse, he said — but he now can work only 15 hours per week in a job that is not physically taxing. The cancer, he said, “will probably get me eventually, but so far, I’m still here, still doing good, and I’m thankful for that.”
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