It’s important to understand that pharmacies are not treated the same by your Medicare plan. Whether you have a standalone Part D plan (where you pay a premium each month) or a Part D component to a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, many Medicare members don’t realize that there are networks of pharmacies to adhere to and in some cases one drug could cost four different amounts if a member goes to four different outlets for their drugs. Many Part D plans have four different types of pharmacies—1. Preferred, 2. Non-preferred, 3. Non-network, and 4. Mail-Order.
Preferred and Mail Order pharmacies typically offer the best prices to the consumer, a non-preferred pharmacy still gives a member a steep discount and copay (albeit more expensive than a preferred pharmacy), but a consumer must pay full-price for his or her prescription at a non-network drugstore.
When choosing a plan, Medicare consumers should be sure to check that the pharmacy they use is a preferred drug store by the plans they are considering because it could significantly impact the total drug cost they need to pay. And while it is necessary to cross-reference the pharmacy network when a plan is initially chosen to make sure your drugstore is a preferred location, it is also important to check pharmacy networks periodically as they do change from time to time.