If you need prescription drug coverage in Florida, Medicare can meet your needs. So long as you have Medicare, you’re eligible to enroll in either Medicare Part D or a Medicare Advantage plan, both of which will cover prescription medication. It’s best to do this soon after becoming a Medicare beneficiary, as you risk incurring late enrollment fees (link) if you wait too long to enroll. The fees will make any plan you sign up for cost more. Enrolling in a prescription drug plan early can also save you months of out-of-pocket expenses should your need for medication suddenly change. After all, you can only enroll in a Medicare prescription plan at certain times of the year.

Medicare Part D vs. Medicare Advantage

Both Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage can cover your prescription medication. And both are administered by private insurance companies rather than the federal government. But their structure and availability differ. Medicare Part D is an additional insurance you add to Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage, however, offers in a single package both what Original Medicare covers as well as other services such as dental and prescription medication coverage. Medicare Part D is available in all 67 Florida counties; Medicare Advantage has coverage zones restricted to certain counties and regions.

If you’re in a Medicare Advantage plan, you could find you get better drug coverage at a lower cost through a Part D plan. You should consider carefully before switching plan types—enrolling in Part D while on Medicare Advantage will automatically disenroll you from Medicare Advantage, returning you to Original Medicare. The same principle applies if you’re switching to a Medicare Advantage plan from a Medicare Part D plan. You will no longer be enrolled in Parts A and B.

Before you decide to take prescription drug coverage with Part D, you should understand how Medicare drug coverage will work with your current insurance. Enrolling in Medicare Part D may disqualify you from getting insurance from your union or employer. You should contact your previous insurance and visit this article (link) on how Medicare Part D works with other insurance before making a decision.

When to sign up

There are three main time windows to enroll in Medicare Part D. These are as follows:

  1. The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). This is the largest window of time you have to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan. It is also the only period you can sign up for Medicare Part D without risking late enrollment fees, regardless of your previous insurance or financial status. The IEP lasts for a total of seven months, beginning three months before the month you’re eligible to become a Medicare beneficiary and ending three months after.
  2. The Annual Election Period (AEP). This lasts from October 15th to December 7th every year. Should you miss your IEP, this is the most common time to sign up for a Medicare prescription drug plan. Even if you don’t need to enroll in Medicare Part D during this period, it’s a good time to review your prescription drug insurance and decide whether you would benefit from switching to another plan.
  3. A Special Election Period (SEP). This enrollment period can take place at any time of the year, but you must have specific circumstances to be granted one. One of these circumstances is losing your previous drug coverage because you moved out of your coverage zone. For a full list of the circumstances allowing you a SEP, visit our article here (link).

What are my choices?

Shown below is a table including the Medicare Part D plans available in Florida. There are six plans which offer extra drug coverage in the donut hole (link). The cheapest plan with a deductible has an $18.40 monthly premium, and the cheapest plan without a deductible has a $25.00 premium. For an explanation on the different Part D benefit types, like “actuarially equivalent standard,” visit our article here (link).

You should consider more than just this chart before deciding on a plan, though. For instance, it’s a good idea to know if your plan has a pharmacy network that will reduce costs if you get medication at certain locations. You should also know whether your specific medications are covered in the plan’s drug formulary.

Organization Name Plan Name Plan ID Benefit Type Total Premium Drug Deductible Gap Coverage
Aetna Medicare Aetna Medicare Rx Saver (PDP) 45 Actuarially Equivalent Standard $39.10 $360.00 No
EnvisionRx Plus EnvisionRxPlus Silver (PDP) 11 Actuarially Equivalent Standard $86.90 $360.00 No
Express Scripts Medicare Express Scripts Medicare – Value (PDP) 113 Actuarially Equivalent Standard $94.20 $360.00 No
Express Scripts Medicare Express Scripts Medicare – Choice (PDP) 181 Enhanced Alternative $105.00 $360.00 No
First Health Part D First Health Part D Value Plus (PDP) 134 Enhanced Alternative $34.30 $0.00 Yes
First Health Part D First Health Part D Premier Plus (PDP) 188 Enhanced Alternative $81.70 $0.00 Yes
Florida Blue BlueMedicare Rx-Option 1 (PDP) 1 Basic Alternative $75.70 $350.00
Florida Blue BlueMedicare Rx-Option 2 (PDP) 2 Enhanced Alternative $174.70 $0.00 Yes
Humana Insurance Company Humana Enhanced (PDP) 10 Enhanced Alternative $70.90 $0.00 Yes
Humana Insurance Company Humana Preferred Rx Plan (PDP) 105 Actuarially Equivalent Standard $27.50 $360.00 No
Humana Insurance Company Humana Walmart Rx Plan (PDP) 157 Enhanced Alternative $18.40 $360.00 No
SilverScript SilverScript Choice (PDP) 22 Basic Alternative $25.60 $0.00 No
SilverScript SilverScript Plus (PDP) 23 Enhanced Alternative $82.20 $0.00 Yes
United American Insurance Company United American – Enhanced (PDP) 14 Enhanced Alternative $82.30 $220.00 Yes
United American Insurance Company United American – Select (PDP) 82 Actuarially Equivalent Standard $84.20 $360.00 No
United American Insurance Company United American – Essential (PDP) 116 Enhanced Alternative $41.30 $250.00 No
UnitedHealthcare AARP MedicareRx Preferred (PDP) 10 Enhanced Alternative $63.80 $0.00 No
UnitedHealthcare AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus (PDP) 356 Actuarially Equivalent Standard $27.50 $360.00 No
WellCare WellCare Classic (PDP) 148 Basic Alternative $41.70 $360.00 No
WellCare WellCare Extra (PDP) 183 Enhanced Alternative $76.40 $0.00 No

Source: CMS.gov

Plans are subject to change as contracts are finalized.

Includes contracts/plans as of April 22, 2016. The data does not reflect information for Employer sponsored plans, Part B only plans, or plans not offering a Part D drug benefit.

by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for Medigap.com. She's been contributing to many well-known publications as an industry expert since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.