If you’re like most people, prescription drug coverage is a must-have for your Medicare coverage. Because Original Medicare does not cover your prescriptions, you’ll want to find a Part D (or Part C) plan that does.
Many people who are eligible for Medicare take one or more prescribed medications. Most prescriptions are not covered by Part A or Part B. Part D prescription drug coverage can help with these costs.
Part D is available as a standalone option or as part of a Medicare Advantage (Part C) Prescription Drug plan. It is provided by companies with a Medicare contract, such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. Many Medicare beneficiaries pair a standalone Part D plan with a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan to help complete their Medicare coverage.
Even if you don’t need it at enrollment time, it’s a good idea to select Part D when you first become eligible. Otherwise, you may have to pay a penalty if you decide you want this important coverage later.
You may enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan ONLY at certain times, such as when you turn 65 or when you retire. To be eligible for Part D, you must be entitled to Medicare Part A and/or enrolled in Medicare Part B.
In Part D plans, drugs are placed into tiers. The costs for drugs in each tier vary. Generally, drugs on lower-number tiers cost less. Each Part D plan is different, and the number of tiers and the medications they cover vary. So, it’s important to carefully check the coverage of any drug plan you are considering before you enroll.
Depending on your prescription drug usage, you may reach a coverage gap during any given year. This is sometimes called the “donut hole”. It begins after the costs of your covered medications reach an annual limit set by the government. Medicare beneficiaries who reach the coverage gap are responsible for paying the costs of their prescriptions during the gap period. Some plans, including group plans offered by employers, may have coverage during the gap.
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