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Additional Notes on the Medicare Part D Formulary

As noted, a Medicare Part D plan's formulary is another name for the plan's prescription drug list or guide.

Which prescription drugs are excluded from Medicare Part D?

Certain groups of medications are specifically excluded from Medicare Part D plans and they include:
  • Most prescription vitamins and minerals (with the exception of prenatal vitamins and fluoride preparations)
  • Prescription drugs used for - anorexia, weight loss or weight gain; fertility; cosmetic purposes or hair growth; relief of symptoms of colds
  • Previous to 2013, certain anti-anxiety and anti-seizure drugs were excluded from the Medicare Part D program. These included:
    • Barbiturates: Pentobarbital (Nembutal), Secobarbital (Seconal), Amobarbital (Amytal), and Phenobarbital (Luminal), and
    • Benzodiazepines: Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, etc.

    Note: Please see information box below to learn more about changes to Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines Medicare Part D coverage that started January 1, 2013.

Update - As of January 1, 2013, Medicare Part D plans cover barbiturates for certain conditions and benzodiazepines.

As of January 1, 2013, Medicare Part D prescription drug plans must provide coverage of Barbiturates "when used to treat epilepsy, cancer, or a chronic mental health disorder" and Benzodiazepines. As noted in Section 175 of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA):


(a) In general. — Section 1860D-2(e)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395w-102(e)(2)(A)) is amended by inserting after "agents)," the following: "other than subparagraph (I) of such section (relating to barbiturates) if the barbiturate is used in the treatment of epilepsy, cancer, or a chronic mental health disorder, and other than subparagraph (J) of such section (relating to benzodiazepines),". 42 USC 1395w—102(e)(2)(A) (P.L. 110-275, §175(a))

(b) Effective date. The amendments made by subsection (a) shall apply to prescriptions dispensed on or after January 1, 2013.

As a note, previous to this 2013 change, Section 1860D-2(e)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act stated:

   (e) Covered Part D Drug Defined.— ...
      (2) Exclusions.—
(A) In general.— Such term does not include drugs or classes of drugs, or their medical uses, which may be excluded from coverage or otherwise restricted under section 1927(d)(2), other than subparagraph (E) of such section (relating to smoking cessation agents), or under section 1927(d)(3), as such sections were in effect on the date of the enactment of this part. Such term also does not include a drug when used for the treatment of sexual or erectile dysfunction, unless such drug were used to treat a condition, other than sexual or erectile dysfunction, for which the drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
(B) Medicare covered drugs.— A drug prescribed for a part D eligible individual that would otherwise be a covered part D drug under this part shall not be so considered if payment for such drug as so prescribed and dispensed or administered with respect to that individual is available (or would be available but for the application of a deductible) under part A or B for that individual.

Can a Medicare Part D plan's formulary change?

Yes - A Medicare Part D plan's list of covered prescription drug or Formulary can change with 60 days prior notice to the Medicare Part D plan's participants or members. Each Medicare Part D plans provides information about how you will be notified in the event of a formulary change.
Please note CMS passed recent guidance that protects current plan members from changes to the plan's formulary or drug list! See the link below:

Are in- or out-patient medications covered under Part D?

No - Medicare Part A is covering your inpatient medications (for hospital or skilled nursing stays. Medicare Part B will cover your outpatient medications.

Tips & Disclaimers
  • Q1Medicare®, Q1Rx®, and Q1Group® are registered Service Marks of Q1Group LLC and may not be used in any advertising, publicity, or for commercial purposes without the express authorization of Q1Group.
  • 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 PDPCompare.com and MACompare.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.
    Statement required by Medicare:
    "We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all of your options."
  • 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.