Sep 14, 2020

Avoid the Part D late enrollment penalty—keep creditable prescription drug coverage

Do you have creditable prescription drug coverage? It’s drug coverage that's expected to pay, on average, at least as much as Medicare's standard prescription drug coverage. It could be drug coverage you get from a current or former employer or union, or from TRICARE, the Indian Health Service, or the Department of Veterans Affairs.

If you don’t have creditable coverage, you may want to join a Medicare drug plan now to avoid the Part D late enrollment penalty, even if you don’t use a lot of prescription drugs. People who have and keep creditable prescription drug coverage, or who get Extra Help to pay for their prescriptions don't have to pay this penalty.

How do I know if my prescription drug coverage is “creditable”?

Your drug plan must tell you each year if your drug coverage is considered creditable coverage. They may send you this information in a letter, or draw your attention to it in a newsletter or other piece of correspondence. Keep this information, because you may need it if you join a Medicare drug plan later and want to avoid the Part D late enrollment penalty. If you have creditable prescription drug coverage when you first become eligible for Medicare, generally you can keep it without paying the late enrollment penalty if you sign up for Part D later.

The cost of the late enrollment penalty depends on how long you went without Part D or creditable prescription drug coverage. In general, you'll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have a Medicare drug plan.

Learn how the Part D late enrollment penalty is calculated and more about the ways to avoid the penalty.