In past articles we have covered the first three parts of Medicare coverage. This represents the final part in this government-based program.
Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) is available to everyone with Medicare. To get Medicare drug coverage, you must join a Medicare drug plan. Plans vary in cost and drugs covered.
Two plans offer Medicare prescription drug coverage:
- Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. These plans (sometimes called “PDPs”) add drug coverage to Original Medicare, some Medicare Cost Plans, some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans.
- Medicare Advantage Plans (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plans that offer Medicare prescription drug coverage. You get all of your Part A and Part B coverage, and prescription drug coverage (Part D), through these plans. Medicare Advantage Plans with prescription drug coverage are sometimes called “MA-PDs.”
Who Can Get Medicare Drug Coverage?
To join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, you must have Medicare Part A and/or Part B. To get prescription drug coverage through a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must have Part A and Part B.
How to Join a Medicare drug plan
Once you choose a Medicare drug plan, you may be able to join by completing a paper application, calling the plan, enrolling on the plan’s Web site, or through the MPDPF LINK. You can also enroll by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
Contact the specific plan you’re interested in to find out how to join. Medicare drug plans aren’t allowed to call you to enroll you in a plan. Call 1-800-MEDICARE to report a plan that does this. (Source: Medicare.gov)
The first year for Medicare Part D was 2006. That year 11 million people were expected to sign up to use this program. The actual number was 24 million.
According to government reports, “As of the end of year 2008, the average annual per beneficiary cost spending for Part D, reported by the Department of Health and Human Services, was $1,517, making the total expenditures of the program for 2008 $49.3 (billions). Projected net expenditures from 2009 through 2018 are estimated to be $727.3 billion.”
Interestingly statistics seem to suggest that since the implementation of Part D Medicare users have improved their willingness to follow their physician’s directions in taking medication. The usefulness of Medicare Part D has statistically proven that if an individual can afford to take the medication they will in fact take it.
According to Wikipedia, “As of 2008 there were 1,824 stand-alone Part D plans available. The number of available plans varied by region. The lowest was 27 (Alaska) and the highest was 63 (Pennsylvania & West Virginia). This allows participants to choose a plan that best meets their individual needs. Plans can choose to cover different drugs, or classes of drugs, at various co-pays, or choose not to cover some drugs at all. Medicare has made available an interactive online tool called the Prescription Drug Plan Finder that allows for comparison of drug availability and costs for all plans in a geographic area. The Prescription Drug Plan Finder can be used to perform a personalized or general search for plans; in either case, the tool allows one to enter a list of medications along with pharmacy preferences. The Plan Finder output includes the beneficiary’s total annual costs for each plan, along with a detailed breakdown of the plans’ monthly premiums, deductibles, and prices for each drug during each phase of the benefit design (initial coverage period, coverage gap, and catastrophic-coverage period).”