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Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Basics:

You can join, switch, or drop a Medicare drug plan at these times:
  • When you first become eligible for Medicare. You can join the 3 months before you turn age 65 to 3 months after the month you turn age 65.
  • If you get Medicare due to a disability, you can join during the 3 months before to 3 months after your 25th month of disability.
  • From October 15 -- December 7 each year. Your coverage will begin on January 1 of the following year.
  • At any time if you qualify for extra help. This includes people who have Medicare and Medicaid, belong to a Medicare Savings Program, get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits (but not Medicaid), and those who apply and qualify.


Note: In certain limited circumstances, you may be able to switch to another Medicare drug plan. For example, you may be able to switch at other times if you permanently move out of your drug plan’s service area or if you enter, live in, or leave a nursing home.

If you currently have Medicare prescription drug coverage, you should review your coverage each year in the fall. If you are happy with your coverage, cost, and customer service, and your Medicare drug plan is still offered in your area, you don’t have to do anything for your coverage to continue for another year. However, if you decide another plan will better meet your needs, you can switch to a different plan.


How do I switch my plan?

You can switch from your current plan at the times listed above by joining a different plan. Joining a different Medicare drug plan will disenroll you from your current plan. You don’t need to tell your current Medicare drug plan you are leaving or send them anything. You should get a letter from your new Medicare drug plan telling you when your coverage begins.


How do I join a plan?

Contact the company that offers the plan you want to join, and ask how to join the plan. Depending on the company, you may be able to join by calling the plan, by mailing or faxing a completed enrollment form to the company, or by enrolling through the company’s website. You may also be able to join through the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder tool by visiting www.medicare.gov on the web. Under "Search Tools," select "Compare Medicare Prescription Drug Plans."

This Website, Q1Medicare.com, also offers many tools to assist you in finding and enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan. Find your Medicare Part D plan via one of the tools below and then click on the "enroll" icon to download your enrollment materials.




(Primary Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - Your Guide to Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage 2008. This content may have been enhanced by Q1Group LLC to include further examples, explanations, and links.)
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Tips & Disclaimers
  • The Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan data on our site comes directly from Medicare and is subject to change.
  • Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed the information on our site.
  • We provide our Q1Medicare.com site for educational purposes and strive to present unbiased and accurate information. However, Q1Medicare is not intended as a substitute for your lawyer, doctor, healthcare provider, financial advisor, or pharmacist. For more information on your Medicare coverage, please be sure to seek legal, medical, pharmaceutical, or financial advice from a licensed professional or telephone Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.
  • We are an independent education, research, and technology company. We are not affiliated with any Medicare plan, plan carrier, healthcare provider, or insurance company. We are not compensated for Medicare plan enrollments. We do not sell leads or share your personal information.
  • Benefits, formulary, pharmacy network, provider network, premium and/or co-payments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year. Our PDP-Compare.com and MA-Compare.com provide highlights of annual plan benefit changes.
  • The benefit information provided is a brief summary, not a complete description of benefits. For more information contact the plan.
  • Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply.
  • We make every effort to show all available Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plans in your service area. However, since our data is provided by Medicare, it is possible that this may not be a complete listing of plans available in your service area. For a complete listing please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.
  • When enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.
  • Medicare beneficiaries with higher incomes may be required to pay both a Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). Read more on IRMAA.
  • Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage (MAPDs) are considered Medicare Part D plans and members with higher incomes may be subject to the Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA), just as members in stand-alone Part D plans. In certain situations, you can appeal IRMAA.
  • You must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Members may enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan only during specific times of the year. Contact the Medicare plan for more information.
  • If you are enrolled in a Medicare plan with Part D prescription drug coverage, you may be eligible for financial Extra Help to assist with the payment of your prescription drug premiums and drug purchases. To see if you qualify for Extra Help, call: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov; the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. TTY users should call, 1-800-325-0778; or your state Medicaid Office.
  • Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-Star rating system. Star Ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next.
  • A Medicare Advantage Private Fee-for-Service plan (PFFS) is not a Medicare supplement plan. Providers who do not contract with the plan are not required to see you except in an emergency.
  • Disclaimer for Institutional Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who meets the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) level of care and resides in a nursing home.
  • Disclaimer for Dual Eligible (Medicare/Medicaid) Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone who has both Medical Assistance from the State and Medicare. Premiums, co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles may vary based on the level of Extra Help you receive. Please contact the plan for further details.
  • Disclaimer for Chronic Condition Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who has been diagnosed with the plan specific Chronic Condition.
  • Medicare MSA Plans combine a high deductible Medicare Advantage Plan and a trust or custodial savings account (as defined and/or approved by the IRS). The plan deposits money from Medicare into the account. You can use this money to pay for your health care costs, but only Medicare-covered expenses count toward your deductible. The amount deposited is usually less than your deductible amount, so you generally have to pay out-of-pocket before your coverage begins.
  • Medicare MSA Plans do not cover prescription drugs. If you join a Medicare MSA Plan, you can also join any separate (stand-alone) Medicare Part D prescription drug plan
  • There are additional restrictions to join an MSA plan, and enrollment is generally for a full calendar year unless you meet certain exceptions. Those who disenroll during the calendar year will owe a portion of the account deposit back to the plan. Contact the plan provider for additional information.
  • Medicare beneficiaries may enroll through the CMS Medicare Online Enrollment Center located at www.medicare.gov.
  • Medicare beneficiaries can file a complaint with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by calling 1-800-MEDICARE 24 hours a day/7 days or using the medicare.gov site. Beneficiaries can appoint a representative by submitting CMS Form-1696.