What is Medicare Part D?

Did you know that in 2016, roughly 41 million (of the 55 million people on Medicare) were enrolled in Medicare Part D (source)? If 41 million people have it – you may be wondering what Part D is, and whether or not you should get it. So far, we’ve explained at a high-level what Medicare is and given a brief overview of its four parts which include Parts A and B (referred to as Original Medicare), and Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans). Here is more information about Medicare Part D –  Medicare’s Prescription Drug Benefit.

What is Medicare Part D?

Medicare Part D is the prescription drug benefit option for those already enrolled in Medicare Part A and/or B. It is a voluntary outpatient prescription drug benefit for those on Medicare. The plans are operated by private insurance companies that follow the rules of Medicare. If you want to get Part D coverage, you have to select this option and enroll in a private Medicare prescription drug plan (PDP) or a Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage (MAPD).

How Much Does Part D Cost?

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the 2017 Part D base beneficiary premium range is from $10-$100 per month. The costs for the drugs themselves will vary by the plan purchased and the cost of the prescription under that plan.

Can I Get Drug Coverage if I Opt Out of Part D?

Yes, if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) then you are able to receive prescription drug coverage. Through Part C coverage you will have access to both medical services and prescription drugs. This is a good option for people who choose to receive all their Medicare benefits in one policy, usually through a health maintenance organization (HMO) or a preferred provider organization (PPO).

Under Part B, you are eligible for a limited set of drugs. Medicare Part B covers injectable and infusible drugs administered often by a physician and not at home.

How Do You Join a Medicare Drug Plan?

Visit the Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare’s website – Medicare.gov. There you can review the plans available and make the best decision possible. Once you choose a Medicare drug plan (part C or Part D), you can join by:

  • Enrolling on the Medicare Plan Finder or on the plan’s website.
  • Completing a paper enrollment form.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)

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