How to get prescription drug coverage

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:

Generally, you will pay this penalty for as long as you have Medicare prescription drug coverage.

  • • You have other Creditable prescription drug coverage.
  • Example: Prescription Drug coverage (for example, from an employer or union) that’s expected to pay, on average, at least as much as Medicare’s standard prescription drug coverage. People who have this kind of coverage when they become eligible for Medicare can generally keep that coverage without paying a penalty if they decide to enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage later.
  • • You get Extra Help Link Extra Help: https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/get-help-paying-costs/lower-prescription-costs

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
  • 1. Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) . These standalone 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.
  • 2. 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.

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