Medicare prescription drug coverage is an optional benefit offered to everyone who has Medicare. This page explains how to get prescription drug coverage and offers tips for making the right choices for you.
If you decide not to get Medicare drug coverage when you're first eligible, you'll likely pay a late enrollment penalty if you join later, unless one of these applies:
- You have other
- You get Extra Help
Generally, you'll pay this penalty for as long as you have Medicare prescription drug coverage.
To get Medicare drug coverage, you must join a Medicare plan that offers prescription drug coverage. Each plan can vary in cost and drugs covered.
2 ways to get prescription drug coverage
- Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). These plans (sometimes called "PDPs") add drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans.
- Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plan that offers Medicare prescription drug coverage. You get all of your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage, and prescription drug coverage (Part D), through these plans. Medicare Advantage Plans with prescription drug coverage are sometimes called “MA-PDs.” You must have Part A and Part B to join a Medicare Advantage Plan.
How to join a drug plan
Once you choose a Medicare drug plan, here's how to get prescription drug coverage:
- Enroll on the Medicare Plan Finder or on the plan's website.
- Complete a paper enrollment form.
- Call the plan.
When you join a Medicare drug plan, you'll give your Medicare Number and the date your Part A and/or Part B coverage started. This information is on your Medicare card.
Consider all your drug coverage choices
Before you make a decision, learn how prescription drug coverage works with your other drug coverage. For example, you may have drug coverage from an employer or union, TRICARE, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Indian Health Service, or a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy. Compare your current coverage to Medicare drug coverage. The drug coverage you already have may change because of Medicare drug coverage, so consider all your coverage options.
If you have (or are eligible for) other types of drug coverage, read all the materials you get from your insurer or plan provider. Talk to your benefits administrator, insurer, or plan provider before you make any changes to your current coverage.
Joining a Medicare drug plan may affect your Medicare Advantage Plan
Your Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) will disenroll you and you'll go back to Original Medicare if both of these apply:
- Your Medicare Advantage Plan includes prescription drug coverage.
- You join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).