If you are looking for help when it comes to affording your prescription drug costs, Medicare’s Part D program can help. If you live in the state of Idaho, you can select from 26 Part D plans offered by 14 different health insurance providers. Enrolling in Medicare Part D can be a time-consuming process, but it’s usually worth it since prescription drug prices continue to rise. In order to take advantage of Medicare Part D savings, you’ll first need to be enrolled in Original Medicare Part A or Part B. Once you are enrolled, you’ll need to obtain a Part D application form, usually from the website of the insurance company from whom you plan to purchase services. You can also call the company and obtain a traditional paper application. Be sure to fill the application out in a timely manner to avoid potential late fees.
Medicare Part D vs. Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage is another option for prescription drug coverage, though it may not offer the same benefits at the same cost as a Part D plan. Advantage plans (sometimes called Medicare Part C) were originally designed to replace Original Medicare Part A and Part B, so most of their coverage options are focused on inpatient and outpatient care. However, some Advantage plans do feature additional prescription drug coverage.
Some Advantage plans are incompatible with Part D, though. In some cases, enrolling in a Part D plan while also being an Advantage member will invalidate the Advantage plan and revert the patient back to Original Medicare Part A and Part B. Be sure to consult with your doctors or a health care professional, preferably one with knowledge of the Advantage and Part D plans you are considering. Do not make any changes to your existing health coverage without first consulting with your plan administrator.
When to sign up
It’s critical that you sign up during Medicare Part D’s Initial Enrollment Period. This period begins three months prior to your Original Medicare eligibility date and ends four months after said date. Your Original Medicare eligibility date is based on your birth month and your 65th birthday. If you miss the seven month window granted to you by the Initial Enrollment Period, you can still sign up during the Annual Election Period. This period starts on October 15th and runs through December 7th each calendar year.
If you miss both of these periods, your final enrollment opportunity will take the form of a Special Election Period. These periods are intended to assist those with hardships such as a loss of prior insurance, so you should try to register during one of the prior periods. If you do not, you may face higher monthly premium payments, late penalties, and possible health audits.
What are my choices?
The Medicare Part D services listed in the preceding table are provided in all Idaho 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.