Medicare Part D Enrollment Window Closing

Hands hold prescription pill bottles
Twenty six million Americans are enrolled in the prescription drug benefit program Medicare Part D for seniors.

If you or someone you care for is over 65, you may be thinking about signing up for this government sponsored drug plan -- but time is running out -- you must enroll by December 31.

However, with well over a 1,000 drug plans, choosing a Medicare Part D plan can be overwhelming and confusing. To help, Dr. Troy Brennan, chief medical officer for CVS Caremark, offered his advice on "The Early Show" for how to navigate the system.

But what exactly is Medicare Part D?

Brennan explained the program is a drug benefit for seniors that provide subsidies for their prescription medications. The open enrollment period that runs until December 31, he said, is when people can pick plans.

He said, "There are lots of plans out there and lots of options, so you have to pick careful carefully and if you do so, you can save yourself some money."

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"Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith pointed out that "lots" means over 1,000 options for seniors to choose from.

However, CVS, Brennan said, has a formula for boiling down options on the CVS Web site.

CVS Medicare Part D Calculator

Brennan said on the Web site, you can put your medications in and the calculator will help you select a plan.

"We've found in testing it that people can save an average of over $600," Brennan said.

Brennan added seniors and their caregivers should consider three "C's": cost, coverage and convenience.

"Figure out what's the lowest cost plan," Brennan said. "Then try to understand sort of are you well covered, are your medications covered under that plan and what are the co-pays and deductibles associated with it. And then finally, is it convenient, can you get your drug where you get it."

Brennan said you don't need to sign up for your plan again, but added it's a good idea to check on your existing plan because plans are always changing.