A number of factors, other than bottom-line cost, may be influencing decisions, Neuman said. "They wanted to go with a plan that had good brand recognition or one of the lowest-premium plans -- not necessarily a plan with lower pharmacy costs," she said.
Still, most people are not maximizing their savings when choosing a Part D plan, the report concluded.
One problem might be that there are too many plans available, Neuman said. "Seniors have said they think there are too many plans, and people don't do well when confronted with so much choice," she said. "It could well be that people found the process difficult."
While the federal government has a useful Web site to help seniors find the best plan for them, many seniors don't use the Internet, Neuman said.
Seniors would do well to go through the process of comparing plans, Neuman said. "It's not an easy or fun process, but there could be significant savings that could result from comparing plans and choosing one that provides the best deals for particular drugs a senior takes," she said.
Consumers also might benefit from a simplified approach to plans.
"Elders might be better off with a smaller set of choices, particularly across benefits structures," Gruber said. "At a minimum, elders would certainly be better off if they made more use of the calculator on the medicare.gov Web site that tells them the implications of different plan choices given their drug utilization. Policy-makers should think hard about restricting the broad set of benefit designs available under Part D.
Paul Precht, director of policy and communications at the Medicare Rights Center, said many Medicare clients would like a governmen
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