Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage: When to Make Changes

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pills in hand Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage: When to Make ChangesAnne Osmer Reporting

If you are a Medicare beneficiary, it’s a good idea to review your drug plan coverage annually.

Medicare prescription drug coverage, or Medicare Part D, provides insurance coverage to help pay for prescription drugs.  All Medicare recipients are eligible for prescription drug coverage regardless of income, health status, or current prescription drugs used.

The annual enrollment period for Medicare prescription drug coverage is November 15 to December 31.  You can either switch plans during that period, or sign up for the first time.  It’s strongly recommended that you make any changes in early December, in order for your drug plan to complete a record of your enrollment by January 1.

In October of each year, drug plan sponsors make available their plans for the coming year.  If you are currently enrolled in a drug plan, your sponsor should notify you of any changes to your plan.  Drug plans can change significantly, so it’s important you review carefully what your plan is offering each year.

Medicare administrators recommend you consider the following before enrolling in a plan: cost, coverage, convenience and peace of mind.  For more information check out Prescription Drug Coverage: Things to Consider on the Medicare Web site.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder can help you learn about available drug plans in your area.  You can also call Medicare at 1 (800) 633-4227, or TTY 1 (877) 486-2048).

There are instances when you can enroll in or change your drug plan outside of the November 15 – December 31 enrollment period.  If you are newly eligible for Medicare, for example, you are allowed enroll up to three months before and three months after the month you become eligible. 

The AARP’s “When and How to Switch Plans” section of their Medicare Drug Coverage Introduction pages provides a list of more exceptions.


Additional resources:

AARP Quick Medicare Part D Enrollment Check List

Medicare: Prescription Drug Coverage

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