Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (also known as “Medicare Part D”) are private insurance plans that are approved by the federal government and offer Medicare beneficiaries insurance coverage for prescription drug costs. There are many plans to choose from, and it’s important to find the plan that best meets your needs. All plans share the cost of drugs with beneficiaries, and financial assistance is available to those who qualify. Navigating through the many choices can be a challenge but there are many sources of help.
Who needs a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan?
Anyone who is eligible for Medicare is eligible for a Medicare prescription drug plan, but not everyone needs one. If you have drug coverage now that is ‘just as good as' a Medicare prescription drug plan, your current plan is considered ‘creditable coverage' and you probably don't need to enroll in a Medicare drug plan. You can enroll in one later if your current drug coverage ends. Your current insurer is required to tell you if your current coverage qualifies as ‘creditable coverage', and you can always contact them and ask if you are unsure. It’s a good idea to ask for a copy of your “certificate of creditable coverage” to keep in your records as evidence that you had coverage for your prescription medications.
If you do not have prescription coverage that is considered “creditable” you should enroll in a Part D plan. It is important to enroll on time to avoid the lifetime penalty. The lifetime penalty is a 1% addition to your Part D premium for every month you failed to enroll after you become eligible if you have no other creditable coverage. Medicare beneficiaries under age 65 who incur this penalty get one chance to have it forgiven when they turn 65 and take advantage of a second Initial Enrollment Period.