If you are new to Medicare you may be anxious to secure Part D coverage. And rightly so. You’ve paid into the system and prescription drugs can take a huge bite out of your budget.
But don’t jump at the first plan that you run across. In addition to finding a plan that will be affordable and include all your drugs, you need to first decide how you will get your Medicare drug coverage.
How you decide to receive your medical benefits will have some bearing on which way you get your Part D coverage.
In addition to exploring your options, we’ll also look at some benefits and drawbacks of each choice.
Which will you choose: stand-alone Part D or Medicare Advantage?
Many people choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan which also includes Part D coverage. This type of plan is known as a MAPD or Part C.
To enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan you must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B as well as live within the plan’s service area.
When enrolled in this type of plan you receive your Parts A, B and D from the plan. Many Advantage plans require a monthly premium, although some plans have a $0 premium.
The advantage to this type of plan is that you are receiving all your Medicare benefits from one plan. Many times your medical and Part D benefits will have a lower monthly premium than if you joined a stand-alone Part D plan.
The downside of this option is that you must accept the terms and conditions of the plan, including any restrictions related to the provider network.
Stand-Alone Part D
A stand-alone Part D drug plan is the option for people who choose not to enroll in a MAPD. If you choose to receive your medical benefits from original Medicare (with or with a supplement) you should choose this option.
But being enrolled in original Medicare is not the only time a stand-alone plan may be appropriate. You can also choose this option with:
- Some Private Fee-For-Service plans (PFFS)
- Some Medicare Cost plans and Medicare Savings Accounts (MSA)
It’s important to note that if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan which does not include Part D, also known as a MA plan, you will not be able to add a stand-alone Part D plan.
The advantage of choosing to receive your Medicare drug coverage with this option is that it allows you greater flexibility on how you get your medical benefits. You may also have more plans to choose from than you will with a Medicare Advantage plan.
The downside is that you will pay a monthly premium for coverage and no Part D premiums are $0 like some MAPDs.
No matter how you choose to receive your Medicare drug coverage be certain that you research the formulary to be certain that all your drugs are covered.