Medicare offers prescription drug coverage (Part D) to everyone with Medicare through various plans run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare. Each plan can vary in cost and drugs covered. There are two ways to get Medicare prescription drug coverage:
Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. These plans (sometimes called "PDPs") add drug coverage to Original Medicare, to some Medicare Cost Plans, Medicare Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans.
Medicare Advantage Plans or other Medicare health plans. Prescription drug coverage (Part D) is added to Part A and Part B coverage through these plans. Medicare Advantage Plans with prescription drug coverage are sometimes called "MA-PDs."
Seniors should consider signing up for a Medicare drug plan during the initial eligibility period, especially if they do not have other reliable prescription drug coverage (called "creditable coverage"), regardless of their prescription drug needs at that time. There will most likely be a penalty that will result in higher premiums with later enrollment. Seniors with limited income and few resources, may qualify for Extra Help from Medicare to pay for prescription drug coverage; some states also offer extra help for prescription drugs.