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What Pharmacists Should Know About Medicare Open Enrollment 2022

Last updated Feb 16, 2022 | Pharmacy Management

The Medicare open enrollment period for 2022 is approaching fast, a critical time for both your patients and your pharmacy. Every year, this period runs from October 15 to December 7. This leaves very little time before patients need to re-evaluate their insurance. 

Here’s how your pharmacy can prepare for the upcoming enrollment period.

About Medicare Open Enrollment 2022

Any US citizen or legal permanent resident over the age of 65 can apply for Medicare open enrollment. 

In some cases, patients under 65 may qualify if they are disabled and have been receiving Social Security Disability benefits for at least 24 months. Anyone diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or end-stage renal disease can also qualify early.

The official enrollment period does end December 7. However, patients living in areas of declared disasters, not including COVID-19, may be eligible for an extended enrollment period.

Breakdown of Medicare types and coverage

Do your senior patients know exactly what each type of Medicare covers? Here’s a quick summary to help them prepare:

  • Medicare Part A  Hospital insurance that includes inpatient and overnight hospital care, skilled nursing facility services, nursing home care, hospice care, and home health services.
  • Medicare Part B Medical insurance for outpatient services to prevent, diagnose, and treat medical conditions, like doctor’s appointments, tests, immunizations, durable medical equipment (DME), mental health services, and limited prescription drugs.
  • Medicare Part C Also known as Medicare Advantage, this is a bundled plan that combines Part A and B and Part D services. Part C also includes add-on services like vision, dental, and hearing.
  • Medicare Part D Additional coverage for Medicare Part A and B patients that covers prescription drugs.

Your Pharmacy’s Role During Open Enrollment

Medicare open enrollment 2022 isn’t just important for patients, it directly benefits your pharmacy as well. 

Switching Medicare plans often result in decreased medication costs, saving the average Medicare patient over $750 a year on prescriptions. More affordable prescriptions can increase medication adherence. Patients are more likely to stay with the pharmacy that helps them compare and choose the best Medicare plan for them.

Provide education and guidance, the earlier the better

Medicare Part D insurance plans have been increasing preferred status at pharmacy chains, while decreasing preferred status at independent pharmacies. This results in lower co-pays for patients at the preferred pharmacy. If independent pharmacies don’t stay on top of the Medicare enrollment conversation, they may be at risk of losing business.

Keep patients informed of Medicare information by building open enrollment information and reminders into your daily or weekly pharmacy content. 

Share newsletters, blog posts, news articles, and social media posts that tell patients about their Medicare plan options. Be sure to explain what to expect during the open enrollment period. Add informational content to your pharmacy website with a resources page or banner.

Set up one-on-one appointment-based consultations

If you want to support patients more directly, consider adding Medicare Part D comparison consultations to your list of services. With so many plans to choose from, having expert guidance from their pharmacy helps patients identify better and healthier alternatives.

However, consultations can be a time commitment for pharmacies, often taking 20-30 minutes per individual appointment plus pre-appointment calls and intake. With its emphasis on personalized health services, the appointment-based model (ABM) can save time and streamline the pharmacy workflow. 

Look for ABM-type platforms that offer Medicare comparison consultation services as a preset appointment type to reduce friction and maximize the patient experience. 

A few ways to market your new offering:

  • Add it to your IVR greeting
  • Send secure 2-way messages to your patients about enrollment season with an appointment sign up link
  • Hang informational signage around your store
  • Print flyers and keep them at your counter or staple them to prescription bags

Digital Pharmacist is committed to helping independent pharmacies succeed. To learn more about how our digital engagement suite can support your pharmacy and patients this Medicare open enrollment season, get in touch today.

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