Generally it is a good idea to get drug coverage when you are first eligible because if you do not, you may pay a late enrollment penalty. You can only avoid a late fee if you either take advantage of the Extra Help program or have other credible prescription drug coverage from a union or employer.
If you do not know if you are going to be assessed a penalty, Medicare will let you to know what the penalty is and what amount you need to pay for your premium. Typically, the penalty is then paid as long as you have a Medicare drug plan. Therefore, it is important to know the deadline of enrollment and do so on time in order to avoid penalties.
There are two ways for you to obtain prescription drug coverage. One way to do this is through a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Part D, which adds drug coverage to the original Medicare; some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service plans; Medicare Medical Savings Account plans; or some Medicare Cost plans. The second way to get coverage is through a Medicare Advantage Plan Part C where patients get all of Medicare Part A (hospital), Medicare Part B (medical), and Part D (prescription drugs) in this plan. Those who enroll must have Part A and Part B to be in a Medicare Advantage Plan (MA-PD).
Here are the four ways to join a drug plan:
- enroll on the Medicare Plan Finder at: https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/questions/home.aspx
- enroll on the individual plan’s website
- fill out a paper enrollment form
- call the plan of choice
- call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
Note: Joining a Medicare drug plan, may impact your Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) and you will revert back to Original Medicare if you join a Medicare Prescription Drug plan (Part D) and if your Medicare Advantage Plan included coverage for prescription drugs.