Prescription Drug Plans
Medicare drug plans are run by private companies that contract with Medicare, and there may be dozens of different plans available where you live. These plans cover a variety of brand-name and generic prescription drugs. All Medicare drug plans offer at least a standard prescription drug coverage, but plans can also add additional benefits. Costs and coverage are different in every plan.
There are two ways to Medicare prescription drug coverage:
- By joining a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
- By joining a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage
You can join a Medicare drug plan when you’re first eligible for Medicare. After this Initial Enrollment Period, you can change your plan from October 15-December 7 each year. If you make a change during this period, your new coverage will begin January 1 of the following year.
Your enrollment generally lasts for the calendar year.
If you don’t join a Medicare drug plan when you’re first eligible for Medicare, and you go without creditable prescription drug coverage for 63 days or more in a row, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty to join a plan later.
Your exact costs will depend on the Medicare drug plan you choose and the drugs you take. Most Medicare drug plans have premiums, deductibles, and copayments that you pay in addition to your Part B premium. If your income is above a certain limit, you will pay an income-related monthly adjustment amount in addition to your plan premium.
If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for Extra Help to pay for prescription drug costs. You can apply online for Extra Help by visiting socialsecurity.gov/i1020.