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Medicare prescription drug coverage: You may need a new plan.

Do you have the right Medicare prescription drug coverage? The answer could help you save big money on your out-of-pocket health care costs during your retirement years.

"Retirees who regularly take prescription drugs can potentially save hundreds or even thousands of dollars with careful shopping for a Medicare Part D prescription drug policy," said Diane Omdahl, president of 65 Incorporated, an independent firm that helps people make smart choices regarding their Medicare coverage.

If you're new to Medicare, you may not even realize you need to buy a separate policy that covers prescription drugs. A possible exception: If you select a Medicare Advantage Plan that simplifies and combines Medicare's various parts and also covers prescription drugs. Even then, not all Medicare Advantage Plans cover prescription drugs, and when they do, they often have different features regarding their coverage.

As a result, if you regularly take one or more prescription drugs for chronic conditions, it's a very good use of your time to shop carefully for prescription drug coverage. You can make changes during Medicare's upcoming open-enrollment period, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, with the changes becoming effective at the beginning of 2019. Unlike Medicare supplement plans, you can change your Part D plan each year without needing to satisfy medical underwriting.

Omdahl said if one or more of these red flags apply to you, it might be time to shop for new drug coverage: