Prescription drug costs are on the rise, and Medicare Part D is probably something you’re researching if you’re over 65 and struggling to pay your medical bills. If you live in Ohio, you can choose from 24 different Part D plans provided by 13 health insurance companies under the supervision of the federal government. You’ll first need to enroll in Original Medicare Part A and Part B. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to apply to the Part D plan of your choice, either in person or via the provider company’s website.
No matter which way you apply, you should do it as early as possible. Delaying your enrollment may result in higher monthly premium costs, late fees, and possibly even a health audit that may affect your ability to obtain coverage.
Medicare Part D vs. Medicare Advantage
Part D isn’t your only option when it comes to prescription drug cost assistance. Medicare Advantage (also called Medicare Part C) sometimes covers drug costs as well, though Part D plans typically provide broader coverage in this area. Medicare Advantage is intended to replace Original Medicare Part A and Part B, though some Advantage plans offer extras such as prescription drug coverage and other bonuses. You should shop around with your local insurance providers to determine if an Advantage plan might be better than Part D in your particular case.
Be aware that some Advantage plans are not compatible with Part D. This means that if you are already enrolled in an Advantage plan and you subsequently enroll in Part D, you could lose your Advantage coverage and be forcibly reverted back to Original Medicare Part A and Part B. Consult with your doctors or health care providers before you make any changes to your insurance plan.
When to sign up
Medicare Part D’s Initial Enrollment Period starts three months prior to your Original Medicare eligibility date. This date is determined by your birth month and your 65th birthday. The Part D Initial Enrollment period ends four months after this date. This gives you a total of seven months to research Part D plans and submit an enrollment application.
If you miss the initial seven-month window, you can still apply during the Annual Election Period that runs from October 15th to December 7th every year. If you miss this window too, you may be able to enroll during one of Medicare’s Special Election Periods. These periods are normally reserved for patients with extenuating circumstances such as the loss of prior insurance coverage. If you are allowed to enroll during one of these periods, you may be subject to late fees, health audits, and higher monthly premium charges over the life of your coverage.
What are my choices?
The Medicare Part D services listed in the preceding table are provided in all Ohio counties. Your county of residence may provide additional plans and services. Contact your local Medicare office for additional details.
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.