Medicare Part D -- Deadline to Join or Switch 12/31 Annually

If you haven’t done so already and you have Medicare Part A and B, compare the drug plan you have to other plans in your area. A family member’s plan or one with a name you recognize may not be the best for you. Compare costs of drugs you take now plus any your doctor thinks you might need to take this year on using the Prescription Drug Plan Finder database. If you want the personal touch, you can get help to search plans and costs by calling the Medicare help line at 1-800-MEDICARE or your state health insurance assistance program (SHIP). You can find this organization in your state by searching the helpful contacts database on the Medicare website looking for a specific organization (SHIP) and choosing your state.

NOTE: If you’re planning or hoping to get a transplant, Medicare Part B covers anti-rejection drugs when you have Medicare Part B if you had Medicare Part A the month you got the transplant and you got the transplant in a Medicare approved transplant program. If you have an employer plan and choose not to take Medicare when you get a transplant, Medicare Part B will never pay for anti-rejection drugs for that transplant and Part D isn’t responsible to pay either. This can be a problem if you lose your employer coverage for any reason. Some people ask for Medicare backdating to have Part A coverage the month of transplant. Medicare can only be backdated up to 12 months to be in effect the month of transplant. Talk with your social worker or read the booklet Medicare Coverage for Kidney Dialysis and Kidney Transplant Services.

Incidentally, transplant patients often have to take other drugs – some different from what dialysis patients take. These may or may not be covered by your drug plan or Part D. This is why it’s important to compare coverage and costs of current and potential drugs when you’re choosing a plan.