New Yorkers in need of financial assistance for prescription drugs can turn to Medicare Part D plans, thanks to 11 health care providers that are offering 19 separate Part D plans throughout the empire state. In order to enroll in one of New York’s Part D plans, you’ll first need to enroll in Original Medicare Part A and Part B. Once that’s done, you should visit the Part D provider of your choice and fill out an application. You may be able to apply online via the company’s website in some cases.
Either way, you should apply as soon as you’re eligible. Failure to do so may result in late fees, health audits, and higher monthly premium costs.
Medicare Part D vs. Medicare Advantage
You may also be examining Medicare Advantage plans in your search for affordable prescription drug coverage. Advantage (sometimes called Medicare Part C) is similar to Part D in that it is a series of government-approved plans that are provided by third-party insurance companies. Unlike Part D, Advantage doesn’t focus exclusively on prescription drugs. Instead, it acts as a replacement for all of the coverage previously available under Original Medicare Part A and Part B and includes some plan-specific extras, such as dental coverage.
One thing to note is that some Advantage plans are invalidated by Part D enrollment. This means that if you’re already an Advantage member and you sign up for Part D, your Advantage plan will be canceled and you will revert back to Original Medicare Part A and Part B. Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to determine whether Advantage or Part D is the best choice for your prescription drug coverage.
When to sign up
Medicare offers three sign up periods for Part D coverage. The first is called the Initial Enrollment Period. It starts three months prior to your Original Medicare eligibility date and concludes four months after this date. This gives you a total of seven months to complete your plan research and your application. Your Original Medicare eligibility date is found using your birth month and your 65th birthday.
If you miss this period, you can sign up during the Annual Election Period which runs from October 15th to December 7th every year. If you miss this period as well, your final opportunity to sign up for Part D will occur during one of Medicare’s infrequent Special Election Periods. You should avoid waiting this long, as the Special Election Periods are intended for those with hardships like the lost of prior insurance coverage. Delaying to a Special Election Period may also incur late fees, higher monthly premiums, and possible health audits.
What are my choices?
The Medicare Part D services listed in the preceding table are provided in all New York 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.