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What is a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan - Part D?

Medicare Part D helps you pay for your prescription drugs. Part D plans are offered by private insurance companies that are approved by Medicare. This coverage is optional and available to anyone enrolled in Original Medicare and most Medicare Advantage plans. The drug benefits work the same in either plan.

If you choose to enroll in a Part D plan, you will pay a monthly premium and copayments for covered prescription drugs. Many plans also have an annual deductible that you must pay before your coverage begins. Each plan varies in costs, but all Medicare prescription drug plans must provide at least the standard level of coverage set by the Medicare program.

Medicare Part D helps you pay for your prescription drugs. Part D plans are offered by private insurance companies that are approved by Medicare. This coverage is optional and available to anyone enrolled in Original Medicare and most Medicare Advantage plans. The drug benefits work the same in either plan.

If you choose to enroll in a Part D plan, you will pay a monthly premium and copayments for covered prescription drugs. Many plans also have an annual deductible that you must pay before your coverage begins. Each plan varies in costs, but all Medicare prescription drug plans must provide at least the standard level of coverage set by the Medicare program.

If you don’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you’re first eligible, you may pay a late enrollment penalty if you join a plan later. You may have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Medicare prescription drug coverage.

You can enroll during your initial enrollment period, the first time you’re eligible for Medicare. You can also enroll during the annual Medicare open enrollment period from October 15 – December 7 each year. There are also special enrollment periods for some situations.

How to enroll in Medicare Part D

If you want to get the Medicare prescription drug benefit, you must choose a private plan offering the benefit in your area and enroll in it. When choosing a Medicare private prescription drug plan, make sure to look at all the costs, not just the premium. Your costs throughout the year will depend on what prescription drugs you take, whether your plan covers them, and whether there are any coverage restrictions.

There are two types of prescription drug plans you can choose from depending on how you get your Medicare benefits. If you have:

1. Original Medicare

Choose a stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP) if you want to continue to receive your other health benefits through Original Medicare, or to add prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Supplement plan.

2. Medicare Advantage Plan 

(such as an HMO or PPO)

Generally, you can get Part D drug coverage as part of a Medicare Advantage Plan. For certain types of plans, such as a Medicare Medical Savings Account plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that chooses not to offer drug coverage you can join a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.