More Details On Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D is optional additional insurance for prescription drugs. Whether you're managing a health condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure with regular prescriptions or you just need the occasional medication, Part D insurance can often save you money. Private insurers such as Empire offer Medicare Part D, and they tend to have many choices in covered medications and pharmacies.
Medicare Part D Enrollment Periods
Initial Enrollment Period
Your first enrollment period for Medicare is called the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). That's a seven-month window that includes:
- Three months before you turn 65
- The month you turn 65
- Three months after you turn 65
During this time, you can apply for Part D coverage along with Medicare Part A and Part B. If you don’t have creditable prescription drug coverage from another source, such as an employer plan, you should consider enrolling in a stand-alone Prescription Drug (Part D) plan or a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan that includes Part D as soon as you’re eligible. If you don’t you may have to pay late enrollment penalties added to your plan’s monthly premium.
Annual Enrollment Period
You still can add Part D coverage after your IEP. You can make changes to your plan, including adding coverage, during the Annual Enrollment Period, which is October 15 to December 7.
Compare Medicare Part D Plans Before You Enroll
You have many options for prescription drug coverage, so there are a few things to consider when you're comparing Medicare Part D plans:
- Look for plans with generic prescription drug tiers, as generics often cost less than brand-name prescription medicines.
- Know and compare your monthly premiums and annual deductibles. Don't forget to include Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles so you know your complete healthcare expenses.
- Know your monthly premiums and annual deductibles. Don't forget to include Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles so you know your healthcare expenses.
- Make sure the plan you select covers the medications you use. All Part D plan providers include a formulary or list of medications covered.
- See if your Part D plan includes a pharmacy network. You may pay less by picking up your medications from in-network pharmacies.
Avoiding The Medicare Part D Penalty
If you don’t sign up for a Part D plan when you’re first eligible, or you’ve gone 63 days or more without creditable drug coverage after your IEP, you’ll pay a monthly late enrollment Medicare Part D penalty while you have Part D coverage. While the fee is typically only a few dollars each month, it can add up over time.
Prescription Drug Coverage Through A Medicare Advantage Plan
Another way to receive prescription drug coverage is through a Medicare Advantage prescription drug (MAPD) plan, which combines Part C and Part D. These comprehensive plans are available through Medicare-approved private insurers like Empire. Many of the plans include prescription drug coverage, plus many other benefits.
These one-stop-shop plans may include dental care, vision care, hearing care, and wellness and fitness memberships, along with prescription drug coverage. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drugs (which most do), you don't need a separate Part D plan.