Interactive Web Tools That Can Help You Choose a Drug Plan

During open enrollment this fall, seniors should tap these resources to compare their Part D options

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Finding the best prescription drug coverage can require a fair amount of study. As the enrollment period rolls around this year, you'll have between 50 and 60 stand-alone Part D plans jockeying for your dollars, not to mention the array of more comprehensive Medicare Advantage plans that lump prescription drug coverage together with hospital and medical coverage. Even people already on a plan will want to shop around this fall, as the details can change significantly—sometimes for the worse—each year. So fire up your computer: Here are a few useful web tools that can guide you in the hunt.

Medicare Drug Plan Finder: Created by the government entity that administers Medicare, this tool asks you to punch in your ZIP code and the drugs you need, then produces a detailed breakdown of monthly and annual costs for an array of plans. This tool is the best impartial source of information about your options. Still, it's a good idea to call and confirm the data with the company itself once you've settled on a plan that you like.

Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Guide: The trade group of the health insurance industry, America's Health Insurance Plans, has published an interactive workbook with the aim of prepping you to use the Medicare Plan Finder Tool. The AHIP guide will walk you through the basics for both stand-alone and Medicare Advantage Plans and features case studies and a printable survey that will help you gauge your preferences.

Medicare Interactive Counselor: Looking for a basic, easy-to-understand explanation of the morass that is health insurance? This tool, created by a not-for-profit consumer advocacy group critical of the privatization of Medicare called the Medicare Rights Center, will walk you through all the basics of how the system works, how you can pick out a plan, and how to appeal if your coverage is denied.