Apply for Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage that pairs with Original Medicare. Signing up for a Part D plan is a simple process that you can complete online.
How Do I Apply for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage?
Unlike Part A and Part B, you don’t get Part D prescription drug coverage through the government. Instead, these plans are available through private insurance companies. Thus, the application process doesn’t involve the Social Security Administration.
However, you’ll need to sign up for Original Medicare before adding a Part D plan. This prescription drug coverage is voluntary, but it’s wise to consider your current and future health needs before signing up.
You’ll want to research available plans before enrolling. Make sure the formulary for the plan of your choice includes any prescriptions you currently take or expect to take in the future, as well as the dosages and whether you take the generic or brand-name version. You can find and sign up for your policy of choice online.
When to Apply for Medicare Part D
The two times you can choose a Part D plan are during your Initial Enrollment Period and the Annual Enrollment Period. Your Initial Enrollment Period is your first opportunity to sign up for Original Medicare. This enrollment period allows you to pick up a Part D plan as well.
Take advantage of this time, beginning three months before you’re Medicare-eligible. It lasts through the third month after you become eligible. This period revolves around your 65th birthday. If you’re eligible due to disability, you get two Initial Enrollment Periods: before and at age 65.
If you decide to add Part D prescription drug coverage later, you have an opportunity to do so each year. This window is the fall Annual Enrollment Period, beginning every year on October 15 and lasting through December 7. When you sign up during this time, your coverage starts on January 1 of the following year. You can also make changes to your current Part D plan during this window.
Yet, if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you can make changes outside these windows. Entitlement to a Special Enrollment Period happens when certain circumstances arise, such as the following:
- You newly qualify for Extra Help to pay for your prescription drugs under Part D
- You lose drug coverage that Medicare considers creditable for Part D
- You no longer reside in your plan’s service area
Apply for Medicare Part D Extra Help
Extra Help is a program available to Medicare-eligible people who struggle to pay for prescription drugs due to insufficient income and resources. Different levels of this assistance are available to help pay for costs such as premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance.
If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), get assistance paying for Medicare through a Medicare Savings Plan (MSP), or are dual-eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, you automatically qualify for Extra Help. You can show your Part D plan documents from Medicaid to prove eligibility.
To otherwise prove eligibility, complete the application for Extra Help with Medicare Part D online at SSA.gov. If you qualify, you can send your plan a copy of your Notice of Award from Social Security.
Remember that applying for Extra Help is a separate process from applying for your Part D plan. You can also apply for Extra Help before choosing a Part D plan.