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What drug plans cover

Each Medicare Prescription Drug Plan has its own list of covered drugs (called a formulary). Many Medicare drug plans place drugs into different "tiers" on their formularies. Drugs in each tier have a different cost.

A drug in a lower tier will generally cost you less than a drug in a higher tier. Sometimes, if your prescriber thinks you need a drug that's on a higher tier, you or your prescriber can ask your plan for an exception to get a lower copayment.

A Medicare drug plan can make some changes to its formulary during the year within guidelines set by Medicare. If the change involves a drug you’re currently taking, your plan must do one of these:

  • Provide written notice to you at least 60 days prior to the date the change becomes effective.
  • At the time you request a refill, provide written notice of the change and a 60-day supply of the drug under the same plan rules as before the change.

Starting in 2017, almost all prescribers need to be enrolled in Medicare or have an “opt-out” request on file with Medicare for your Medicare drug plan to cover your prescriptions. If your prescriber isn’t enrolled and hasn't “opted-out,” you’ll still be able to get a 3-month provisional fill of your prescription. This will give your prescriber time to enroll, or you time to find a new prescriber who’s enrolled or has opted-out. Contact your plan or your prescribers for more information.

Find out which plans cover your drugs