Prescription drug prices continue to rise year after year, and millions of Americans are using Medicare’s Part D prescription drug plans to cope with the skyrocketing costs. If you’re a Minnesota resident, you can choose from 23 Part D plans administered by 13 different health care providers. To take advantage of Medicare Part D you’ll first need to make sure you’re enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and Part B. Once that’s done, you can fill out an application for the Part D plan of your choice, either on the provider’s website or in person via a traditional paper application.
Don’t delay, as you may be subject to late penalties, higher monthly premium costs, and even health audits if you don’t enroll in Part D by Medicare’s various deadlines.
Medicare Part D vs. Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage (also called Medicare Part C) provides prescription drug coverage as well. Like Part D, Advantage is a series of plans offered by third-party insurance companies under the direction of the federal government. Unlike Part D, Advantage is basically a replacement for all of the services offered under Original Medicare Parts A and B, with some additional plan-specific features like prescription drug coverage tacked on for good measure.
Advantage and Part D plans vary considerably in terms of coverage, pricing, and availability. Some Advantage plans are also incompatible with Part D, which means that if you are already enrolled in an Advantage plan and you opt for the additional coverage provided by Part D, you could lose your existing insurance. Your Advantage plan my revert back to Original Medicare Part A and Part B upon your Part D enrollment, so be sure you discuss all of the specifics with your plan administrators before making any policy changes.
When to sign up
You’ll want to sign up for Part D as soon as possible, which means taking advantage of the seven month window offered by the Initial Enrollment Period. This period begins three months prior to your Original Medicare eligibility date and concludes four months after said date. Your Original Medicare eligibility date is based on your 65th birthday and your birth month.
If you miss the initial period, you can try again during the Annual Election Period that starts on October 15th and ends on December 7th of each calendar year. If you miss this period as well, your last chance for Part D coverage will occur during one of Medicare’s Special Election Periods. You should try to avoid this last resort, though, since the Special Election Periods are typically provided by Medicare as a courtesy for people with extenuating hardships like the loss of prior insurance coverage.
What are my choices?
The Medicare Part D services listed in the preceding table are provided in all Minnesota 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.