Rhode Island residents have 25 options when it comes to Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. These plans are administered by 14 healthcare providers under the direction of the federal government. Part D eligibility requires that the patient already be enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and Part B. After the prerequisite is met, the patient must fill out an application form for the Part D plan desired, either on the website of the company providing the plan or via a traditional paper application form.

Part D applicants are encouraged to begin the process as soon as possible in order to avoid possible late fees, health audits, and increased monthly premium prices.

Medicare Part D vs. Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage (sometimes called Medicare Part C) also offers prescription drug coverage in some cases. Advantage is designed to replace Original Medicare Part A and Part B, but some plans provide extra coverage depending on the location and the provider. Part D, on the other hand, focuses exclusively on prescription drugs, and it usually offers more drug options and coverage than Advantage plans.

Aside from the varying cost and availability of Advantage plans versus Part D plans, it’s also important to note that some Advantage plans are not compatible with Part D. This means that if you are enrolled in Advantage and you subsequently enroll in Part D, your Advantage coverage may be cancelled and you may revert back to Original Medicare Part A and Part B. Consult with your doctors and healthcare plan administrators before making any changes to your coverage.

When to sign up

Medicare Part D’s Initial Enrollment Period lasts for seven months. It starts three months before your Original Medicare eligibility date and concludes four months after that date. The date is determined by your birth month and your 65th birthday. It is listed in your Original Medicare documentation. If you miss the initial seven month enrollment window, you can still apply during the Annual Election Period. This period starts every October 15th and ends every December 7th. If you miss this period as well, you’ll have to enroll during one of Medicare’s infrequent Special Election Periods. These periods are designed to help people with extenuating circumstances, such as the loss of prior insurance. If you delay your enrollment to a Special Election Period, you may be subject to late fees, higher monthly premium costs that constantly increase over the life of your coverage, and even health audits that may prevent you from receiving coverage.

What are my choices?

The Medicare Part D services listed in the preceding table are provided in all Rhode Island counties. Your county of residence may provide additional plans and services. Contact your local Medicare office for additional details.

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.