Medicare Part D
How to get prescription drug coverage
Medicare drug coverage helps pay for prescription drugs you need. It's optional and offered to everyone with Medicare. Even if you don’t take prescription drugs now, consider getting Medicare drug coverage. If you decide not to get it when you’re first eligible, and you don’t have other creditable prescription drug coverage (like drug coverage from an employer or union) or get Extra Help, you’ll likely pay a late enrollment penalty if you join a plan later. Generally, you’ll pay this penalty for as long as you have Medicare drug coverage. To get Medicare drug coverage, you must join a Medicare-approved plan that offers drug coverage. Each plan can vary in cost and specific drugs covered.
There are two ways to get Medicare drug coverage
1. Medicare drug plans. These plans add drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Private Fee-for-Service plans, and Medical Savings Account plans. You must have Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)to join a separate Medicare drug plan.
2. Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) or other Medicare Health Plan with drug coverage. You get all of your Part A, Part B, and drug coverage, through these plans. Remember, you must have Part A and Part B to join a Medicare Advantage Plan, and not all of these plans offer drug coverage.
To join a Medicare drug plan, Medicare Advantage Plan, or other Medicare health plan with drug coverage, you must be a United States citizen or lawfully present in the United States.
What Medicare Part D drug plans cover
All plans must cover a wide range of prescription drugs that people with Medicare take, including most drugs in certain protected classes,” like drugs to treat cancer or HIV/AIDS. A plan’s list of covered drugs is called a “formulary,” and each plan has its own formulary. Medicare drug coverage typically places drugs into different levels, called “tiers,” on their formularies. Drugs in each tier have a different cost. For example, a drug in a lower tier will generally cost you less than a drug in a higher tier.
Your actual drug coverage costs will vary depending on:
Your prescriptions and whether they’re on your plan’s list of covered drugs (formulary).
What “tier” the drug is in.
Which drug benefit phase you’re in (like whether you’ve met your deductible, or if you’re in the catastrophic coverage phase).
Which pharmacy you use (whether it offers preferred or standard cost sharing, is out of network, or is mail order). Your out-of-pocket drug costs may be less at a preferred pharmacy because it has agreed with your plan to charge less.
Whether you get Extra Help paying your Medicare drug coverage costs.