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Can I use a Drug Discount Card instead of my Medicare Part D plan to buy my prescription drugs?


Yes.  Medicare Part D plan coverage is voluntary and you are not required to use your Medicare Part D plan when purchasing medications.

Instead, you are allowed to use a drug discount card or you can ask your local pharmacy about their everyday low prices - but remember, you cannot use your Medicare Part D plan together with a drug discount card.

Also, you may find that your regular pharmacy may have your Medicare Part D information on file and automatically process your prescriptions fill or refill under your Part D coverage, so you may need to ask that your prescriptions are processed using a drug discount card or a discount coupon or the pharmacy's everyday low pricing.

Example:  Using a Drug Discount Card when you have very few, low-costing generics.

If you have very low (or no) prescription costs such as when the retail cost of your prescriptions is under $33 per month and your Medicare Part D plan has a $435 Initial Deductible (and low-cost Tier 1 and Tier 2 drugs are not excluded from the deductible), you will never leave your Medicare Part D plan's Initial Deductible and be responsible for 100% of your medication costs.

Question:  Is a Drug Discount Card always cheaper than my Part D coverage?

Not always.  It is always worth checking Drug Discount Card prices, but be sure to compare theses discount prices to your Medicare plan's coverage cost or negotiated retail drug price and you may find your Medicare drug plan's price are lower than the drug prices offered with a drug discount card.

This means you will often pay less for a drug when using your Medicare Part D plan coverage - even if you are paying 100% of the cost in the Initial Deductible.  You can view our Q1Rx.com Drug Finder for an overview of your Medicare plan's average retail drug pricing - and see an estimated price using a drug discount card at the top of the chart.

As an example:  Using the generic drug 20 mg Duloxetine HCL, you can see in our Q1Rx.com Drug Finder example below that some Medicare Part D plan prices are less than the estimated drug discount card and some average Medicare Part D plan prices are far greater than the price using a drug discount card (- and don't forget: retail drug prices can change throughout the year).

So, as noted above, even if you are in your Initial Deductible and responsible for 100% of the drug cost, your full drug cost with your Part D plan (for example, $18.26) is less than the estimated drug discount card price when using a Discount Card ($25.20).  And naturally, if you were out of your Initial Deduction using this same example, you would only pay 25% of the $18.26 for a prescription fill.

The Medicare Part D plan's average negotiated retail price as compared to the estimated cost with a drug discount card

Question:  Can I still get credit for my drug purchases even when not using my Part D drug plan?

Usually yes.  After making a purchase, you can ask your Medicare Part D plan about submitting the receipts toward your annual out-of-pocket (TrOOP) spending records.  In that way, if your medication needs change, and you need to purchase more expensive medications, your previous formulary prescription drug purchases will count toward exiting the Initial Deductible.

Please note, in most cases, your Medicare Part D plan will not reimburse you for drug purchases made outside of the Medicare Part D plan, but you can ask that the value (what you spent) for the formulary drugs is recorded by your plan.  (There are exceptional cases when your Part D plan may reimburse you for non-Part D drug purchases such as when you cannot find a network pharmacy to fill a prescription.)

For more information about submitting your receipts for formulary drug purchased without your Medicare Part D plan, please contact your Medicare Part D plan's Member Services using the toll-free telephone number found on your Member ID card.





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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.