Medicare's prescription drug coverage (also called Part D) is a program to help people on Medicare pay for medications. You can add Part D to Original Medicare, as well as to certain other Medicare plans. Another way that you can get prescription drug coverage is to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage.
Most people who are 65 years and older or are disabled can enroll in Medicare, including Medicare drug plans.
You can enroll in Medicare around your 65th birthday—three months before your birthday month to three months after. If you have a disability, you can enroll during a seven-month window around your 25th month of disability. Also, Medicare has an open enrollment period from October 15 through December 7.
Private health insurance companies administer the drug plans for Medicare. These companies provide a list of brand-name and generic drugs that they cover. The list can change over time. It is common for drug plans to exclude more expensive brand-name medications if a generic one is available. However, if there is a medication that you really need, your doctor may be able to appeal and get the drug covered.
The costs depends on different things—the medications you use, the plan you choose, and whether you go to a pharmacy in your plan’s network. Here are some costs you can expect to pay:
Yes, there are steps that you can take to lower your costs, such as:
By answering a few questions, you should be able to choose a plan that works best for you:
Visit Medicare.gov to learn more about their health insurance plans and drug coverage. If you are eligible, you can even sign up online for Part D.
Drug coverage (Part D). Medicare.gov website. Available at: http://www.medicare.gov/part-d/. Accessed October 31, 2013.
Enrolling at the right time. AARP website. Available at: http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-04-2011/medicare-enrollment.html. Updated May 7, 2012. Accessed October 31, 2013.
Extra help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs. Medicare.gov website. Available at: https://secure.ssa.gov/i1020/start. Accessed October 31, 2013.
Get help paying costs. Medicare website. Available at: http://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/help-paying-costs/get-help-paying-costs.html. Accessed October 31, 2013.
Medicare Advantage plans. Available at: http://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/medicare-health-plans/medicare-advantage-plans/medicare-advantage-plans.html. Accessed October 31, 2013.
Medicare and you: 2014. Medicare website. Available at: http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/10050.pdf. Accessed October 31, 2013.
Last reviewed October 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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