Medicare Part D

If you have Medicare Part A and/or Part B you can enroll in Medicare Part D.

If you already have other drug coverage, your other plan should give you notice that tells you if your coverage is as good as Part D or if you need to join a Part D plan. You don’t have to join a Part D plan if you have drug coverage as good as Medicare Part D.

Everyone can join or switch plans each year from November 15 through December 31. Medicare suggests you join or switch plans by December 8 so you get your new member packet and ID card by January 1. You can compare and join online at or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

If you just got Medicare, you have 3 months to get a plan. If you got a Medicare letter that says your Medicare was backdated, you have 3 months from the date on the letter to get Part D. Wait too long and you could pay a higher premium as long as you have Part D.

Those with Medicare and Medicaid and those who get help from their state to pay their Medicare premium can switch plans any month. Their new plan starts the next month. Those with SSI who don’t also have Medicaid can switch plans one time outside the open enrollment period.

Here are tips that may help you save money on your drugs:
–If you have a Part D plan, compare your current plan with other plans to be sure that you’re getting the best drug coverage for your money.
– Expect to get an annual notice of change (ANOC) before the open enrollment period. Your ANOC will tell you about changes in your plan’s premium, copays or coinsurance, and you’ll get a list of covered drugs or how to get one.
– Expect your out-of-pocket costs to go up every year. Last year you may have paid $3,600 out of pocket before Medicare and your plan paid 95% of your covered drug costs. This year, you’ll pay $3,850 before Medicare and your plan will pay 95%.
– If you have limited income and assets, apply for extra help with Social Security (1-800-772-1213). Some people get extra help automatically. With extra help, you’ll pay little or no premium for your Part D plan and only $1-$5.15 per drug or 15% percent of your drug costs in 2007.
– If you had to pay 100% of your drug costs part of this year, compare your plan to plans that offer coverage for generic or generic and brand name drugs all year, even in the gap.
– Taking generic drugs will save you money and postpone the gap.
– You may get help with Part D premiums or drug costs through a state pharmacy assistance program or charities.
– You may get some drugs from drug company patient assistance programs instead of Part D.