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I wish to cancel my Medicare Part D prescription drug plan coverage. What should I do?



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Question: I wish to cancel my Medicare Part D prescription drug plan coverage. What should I do?

Answer: In most cases, you can only disenroll or cancel your Medicare Part D plan or Medicare Advantage plan during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) or annual Open Enrollment Period (OEP) which runs from October 15 through December 7 of each year.

The easiest way to dis-enroll or cancel your Medicare Part D plan or Medicare Advantage plan is to call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 and speak with a Medicare representative.  You will need to provide Medicare with your Medicare Claim Number found on your red, white, and blue Medicare ID card.

You can also dis-enroll by contacting your Medicare plan provider.

However, if you wish to cancel your Medicare plan through your plan provider, your request to cancel your Medicare plan should be in writing.

You can call your plan's Member Services telephone number on the back of your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan membership ID card and the plan representative will be able to tell you what you should write in your letter and where the letter should be mailed.  We would suggest sending a cancellation letter registered with a delivery confirmation.

The cancellation of your current Medicare plan coverage would be effective starting on January 1st.

As an alternative to dropping your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan coverage . . .
You may wish to consider just enrolling in the lowest costing Medicare Part D plan that is available in your area and then just view your monthly premium as "insurance" that you have just in case your prescription drug needs or health needs change (in other words, look at a Medicare Part D plan as protection from the year's uncertainties - like car or house insurance).

Remember, if you are without creditable prescription drug coverage (for instance, you do not have VA coverage or employer prescription drug coverage) and then later decide to re-join a Medicare Part D plan, you may have accrued a permanent Premium Penalty that will increase the cost of your monthly premiums. Click here to see the current premium penalty.

More on the late-enrollment premium penalty:
Although the Medicare Part D prescription drug program is voluntary, if you drop your prescription drug plan coverage and do not have any other creditable prescription drug coverage (and are not qualified for the Medicare Part D Extra Help program), you will be subject to a late-enrollment premium penalty for each month that you are without coverage.

The penalty is calculated as an increase of 1% of the national base Medicare Part D premium for each month you are without coverage.

Here is an example of estimate a 2016 Medicare Part D late-enrollment penalty
If you were previously without creditable prescription drug coverage for five years (60 months), you would pay, in addition to your monthly Medicare plan premium, a monthly penalty of $20.50 (60 months without drug coverage * 1% of $34.10) or an additional $246 per year.

How high of a 2016 late-enrollment penalty could someone pay?

About $471 per year.
It is possible that you could have a penalty that reaches as high as an additional $39 per month that must be paid in addition to your 2016 Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan premium. So, if you:
  • were eligible for Medicare back before January 2006 and
  • never joined a Medicare Part D plan until 2016 and
  • are not eligible for the Extra Help program and
  • have been without any other creditable prescription drug coverage since the start of the Medicare Part D program (115 months),
you would now have a monthly late-enrollment penalty for of around $39 in 2016 – paid in addition to your monthly Medicare Part D plan premium.

We calculated the maximum penalty as 115 months without drug coverage * 1% of $34.10 = $39 rounded to nearest 1$). In other words, you will now pay an additional $471 penalty per year for your Medicare Part D coverage.
The average national base monthly premium used to calculate the penalty will probably increase a little each year, so your penalty will also continue to increase over the life of your Medicare Part D plans.

Annual changes in the Medicare Part D National Base Premium

The Part D base beneficiary premium for 2006 was $32.20
The Part D base beneficiary premium for 2007 was $27.35
The Part D base beneficiary premium for 2008 was $27.93
The Part D base beneficiary premium for 2009 was $30.36
The Part D base beneficiary premium for 2010 was $31.94
The Part D base beneficiary premium for 2011 was $32.34
The Part D base beneficiary premium for 2012 was $31.08
The Part D base beneficiary premium for 2013 was $31.17
The Part D base beneficiary premium for 2014 was $32.41
The Part D base beneficiary premium for 2015 was $33.13
The Part D base beneficiary premium for 2016 was $34.10

In the early years of the Medicare Part D program, there was some discussion of eliminating the Medicare Part D premium penalty, but to date, the penalty remains in action.


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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.