What is Medicare Part D?

One of the most important things to consider during your Medicare decision-making process is how to get your prescriptions covered. Luckily, if you need prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D), it’s easy to add on. You can add Part D to any Medicare plan at just about any time, with a few limitations. Here’s a quick orientation on Medicare Part D:

What is Medicare Part D and what does it cover?

In a nutshell, Medicare Part D helps cover your prescription drug costs. Plus, you can add it to any combination of Medicare plans:

  • Original Medicare + Part D
  • Original Medicare + Supplement + Part D
  • Medicare Advantage + Part D

(*Most Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage. However, if you end up choosing a plan without it, you can always add Part D.)

Each Part D plan is unique and has its own list of covered drugs. Plus, almost every state has twenty (or more) plans to choose from so there’s a good chance you’ll find the type of coverage you’re looking for.

When can I enroll in a Medicare Part D plan?

The best time to enroll in a Part D plan is during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) — which starts three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after your birthday. However, to qualify for a Medicare Part D plan, you need to be enrolled in Part A and Part B first.

You can also enroll in a Part D plan anytime after your Initial Enrollment Period but you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty (which can increase the cost of your Part D premium).

How much does it cost?

The cost you’ll pay for prescription drug coverage varies but the structure is typically the same regardless of plan. Any prescription drugs that are covered by Part D are usually categorized into four different tiers:

  1. Generic drugs
  2. Preferred brand-name drugs
  3. Non-preferred brand-name drugs
  4. High-cost drugs

Tier 1 is always the least expensive and the price goes up with each tier. And depending on which plan you choose, you may not have to pay an additional premium.



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