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Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
Medicare recipients who are conscious about the cost of their Medicare premiums should consider getting prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D) as soon as they’re eligible for Medicare. Every month you delay getting coverage could contribute to a larger late enrollment penalty when you finally do join. This penalty is charged monthly for the rest of the time you’re on Medicare Part D, even if you change plans. There are some exceptions, but you need to make sure one of those exceptions applies to you before your first open enrollment date.
Here are 2 ways medicare recipients can get drug coverage:
1. Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs)
add drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans. You must have Medicare Part A or Part B to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
2. Medicare Advantage Plans (HMO or PPO plans provided by private companies)
These plans provide all of your Plan A, Plan B and prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage Plans that offer all three are sometimes called MA-PDs for Medicare Advantage with Part D. You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B to join a Medicare Advantage Plan. Not all of these plans offer drug coverage, so be sure to verify that with your plan provider.
When Can you enroll in a Drug Plan?
- When you first become eligible for Medicare, you can join during your Initial Enrollment period. You can either join through original Medicare or through a plan, such as a Medicare Advantage Plan, offered by a private company.
- If you get Part B for the first time during the General Enrollment Period, you can also join a Medicare drug plan.
- During the annual Open Enrollment period from October 15 – December 7 of each year. Your coverage will begin on January 1 of the following year.
Most Medicare Part D plans charge a monthly fee that varies by plan. You pay this in addition to the Part B premium. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Cost Plan that includes Medicare Part D, the monthly premium may include an amount for prescription drug coverage.
Some Medicare prescription drug plans have a yearly deductible. You will have to pay that amount before your drug plan begins to pay its share of your covered drugs.
Copayments or Coinsurance
Depending on your plan, you may have to pay a portion of your drug costs at the time you pick up your prescription. This may apply even after you have paid the deductible if your plan has one.