Original Medicare – that’s your Part A hospital insurance and Part B medical insurance – does not cover prescription medications. In 2003, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act added Part C and Part D, allowing private insurers to offer health plans (Part C) and prescription drug plans (Part D) to seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries.
Drug plans are allowed to have different costs and different drug coverages. They are not all the same, so it’s critical that you make sure your prescriptions are covered at a favorable price.
You can get your Part D coverage two different ways. The first way is to enroll in the Part D Plan (PDP) of your choice. The monthly cost on most PDPs is modest, and they work with your Original Medicare to give you more coverage.
You can also get Part D as part of a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C). These are private health plans that let you get all of your health care coverage from the same insurance company. Medicare Advantage plans that have Part D drug coverage are sometimes referred to as MA-PDs.
Here’s some critical information that all seniors need to know about Part D. If you don’t join a plan when you are first eligible, you will most likely pay a late enrollment penalty when you do sign up, and you pay the penalty forever.