Medicare Part D Basics
Medicare Part D is the Prescription Drug benefit of Medicare. In order to have coverage for prescriptions, you must enroll or join a Part D plan offered by a private insurance company. If you do not elect to join a Part D plan, you will be responsible for the full retail cost of your prescriptions.
The 2 most common ways to buy Part D are:
- Buying a stand-alone plan (along with Medicare and a Supplement) or
- Enrolling into a Medicare Advantage Plan that also includes Part D. When you elect Part D coverage, you get an ID card to use at your local pharmacy that shows what your co-pay is for different drugs ($5 for generics). Many plans also offer a mail order option for maintenance drugs as well.
If you do not join a Part D plan when you are first eligible, a late enrollment penalty will start to add up. This penalty will be applied when finally do decide to join a plan. You will be required to pay the higher price for the rest of your life.