By Kimberly Lankford
Q: You’ve mentioned that the Medicare Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov is a great way to compare Medicare Part D plans, but the tool seems difficult to use. Do you have any tips for navigating this online resource?
A: Yes, the Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov can be a bit complicated, but the tips below can make it easier to use.
Start at the Plan Finder main page (www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan), where you can personalize your search. Answer some basic questions about the type of Medicare plan you have now, such as traditional Medicare plus a supplemental policy and a separate Part D prescription-drug policy, or an all-inclusive Medicare Advantage plan. Then click on “yes” when it asks if you would like to add your drugs.
Enter the names of your medications, dosages and frequency.
Next, you’ll be given the option to select local pharmacies. This has become a very important step for comparing plans now that most of them have preferred pharmacies, which charge lower co-payments than other in-network pharmacies.
A summary page will appear listing the number of stand-alone Part D prescription-drug plans available in your area and the number of Medicare Health Plans with and without drug coverage.
You’ll be given several options in the left column to refine your search. But it’s best to see the full list and then narrow your search when you can compare overall costs.
After you click on “prescription drug plans,” you’ll see a list of the Part D plans available in your area. The first column for each plan will list the estimated annual drug costs, which includes the premiums, any deductible and the co-payments for your specific drugs. This is generally the best way to compare plans.
The second column shows the monthly premium, and the third lists the deductibles and co-payments for each tier of medications. The fourth column explains any drug restrictions, such as medications that require prior authorization by a doctor.
Check the boxes of up to three plans you’re interested in and then click “compare plans.”
Kimberly Lankford is a contributing editor to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to