Medicare drug plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare. There are 2 ways to get Medicare prescription drug coverage:
We use the term "Medicare drug plans" throughout this booklet to mean all plans that provide Medicare prescription drug coverage.
To join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan
, you must have Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and/or Part B (Medical Insurance). To join a Medicare Advantage Plan or other Medicare Health Plan with prescription drug coverage, you must have Medicare Part A and
Part B. You must also live in the service area of the Medicare drug plan you want to join.
Medicare drug plans vary in what prescription drugs they cover, how much you have to pay, and which pharmacies you can use. All Medicare drug plans must provide at least a standard level of coverage set by Medicare. However, plans offer different combinations of coverage and cost sharing. Having a variety of plans to choose from gives you the chance to pick a plan that meets your unique needs. Choosing a plan that fits your situation allows you to get the coverage you want at the best price possible.
If you decide to join a Medicare drug plan, compare plans in your area and choose one that meets your needs. If you don’t join a Medicare drug plan when you are first eligible for Medicare, and you don’t have drug coverage that is, on average, expected to pay at least as much as standard Medicare prescription drug coverage (called creditable prescription drug coverage
), you will have to pay a late enrollment penalty
if you join later. You will pay the penalty in addition to your premium each month for as long as you have a Medicare drug plan.