How to avoid the Medicare Part D late enrollment penalty
You may be asking yourself, “what is the Part D late enrollment penalty and how do I avoid it?” Many Medicare beneficiaries don’t even realize that there is a part D late enrollment penalty.
The official Medicare publication. “Medicare and you”, states that:
The late enrollment penalty is an amount that is added to your Part D premium. You may owe a late enrollment penalty if one of the following is true:
You didn’t join a Medicare drug plan when you were first eligible for Medicare, and you didn’t have other creditable prescription drug coverage.
You had a break in your Medicare prescription drug coverage or other creditable coverage of at least 63 days in a row.
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Enroll in Part D when you are eligible
The best time to enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan is when you first become eligible. Often, a Medicare beneficiary may mistakenly believe that they can save some money by not enrolling in a Part D Plan because they are prescribed little or no medications.
Don’t fall into this trap. You could end up with higher costs due to the late enrollment penalty. Also, it’s called insurance for a reason. Even though you are on little or no prescription medicine, that is not an indicator as to what may happen in the future.
Here are some tips from the publication “Medicare and You”
Here are a few ways to avoid paying a penalty:
Join a Medicare drug plan when you’re first eligible.
You won’t have to pay a penalty, even if you’ve never had prescription drug coverage before. Don’t go for more than 63 days in a row without a Medicare drug plan
Creditable prescription drug coverage could include drug coverage from a current or former employer or union, TRICARE, or the Department of Veterans Affairs. Your plan will tell you each year if your drug coverage is creditable coverage. Keep this information, because you may need it if you join a Medicare drug plan later. Let your Medicare drug plan know if you had other creditable coverage.
When you join a plan, you may get a letter asking if you have creditable coverage. Complete the form they send you. If you don’t tell the plan about your creditable coverage, you may have to pay a penalty.
To compare 2010 Medicare Part D Plans visit the official Medicare Website and follow the link to compare plans in your area. It’s much more user friendly if you select “Plans in your area with drug coverage”. You will be asked to enter your State and County of residency. As an example, if you are comparing 2010 Medicare Part D prescription drug plans in Cook County Illinois, you will see that there are 46 stand alone Part D Plans to choose from.
You can also compare 2010 Medicare Advantage Plans in Cook County Illinois or where ever you reside. this tool is invaluable to do your preliminary research before you speak with an agent or go to a plan’s website.