Enrolling Medicare Part D

Last Updated : 09/21/20194 min read

Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn’t include coverage for most prescription drugs you take at home. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who regularly take prescription drugs, you might have to pay out of pocket for your medications unless you have Medicare Part D coverage.

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Here are the steps for Medicare Part D enrollment.

Step 1: Chose the Medicare Part D plan you want

There are two ways to get Medicare Part D:

  • Through a Medicare Advantage plan which also includes coverage for your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits
  • Through a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan that goes along with Original Medicare

You could have over a dozen options for stand-alone Medicare Part D plans depending on where you live. These plans could have different:

  • Monthly premiums (how much you pay to have the plan, even if you don’t fill prescriptions)
  • Yearly deductibles (how much you pay before the plan begins to pay)
  • Star ratings (an indicator of customer services and member satisfaction)
  • Formularies (lists of covered medications)
  • Copayments/coinsurance (how much you pay when filling a prescription)

Compare all the costs and features of the plan to determine which one you want.

Step 2: Be sure you’re in an enrollment period

There are several Medicare Part D enrollment periods when you can enroll in a Medicare Part D plan for the first time or switch your enrollment from one plan to other. These enrollment periods include:

Enrollment Period When it happens What you can do
Initial Enrollment Period A 7-month period that starts three months before you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and lasts for three months after the month you turn 65.


If you qualify for Medicare because of a disability, you have a 7-month initial enrollment period that starts 21 months after you get Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits and lasts through your 28th month of getting Social Security or RRB benefits.

Sign up for a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
Medicare Open Enrollment Period October 15-December 7 each year Sign up for a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan, Switch from one Medicare Part D plan to another Medicare Part D plan
Special Enrollment Periods When you meet a certain condition, for example:
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· Moving to a new address that isn’t in your plan’s service area

· Moved into a skilled nursing facility or long-term care hospital

Switch to a new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or join a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan

 Step 3: Be aware of the late-enrollment penalty

You might want to delay Medicare Part D enrollment because you don’t take a lot of prescription drugs. In fact, you might not take any prescription drugs and you don’t see the need for prescription drug coverage.

Just be aware that if your situation changes and you do need prescription drugs in your future, you may pay a late-enrollment penalty along with your monthly premium. You’ll generally pay this late-enrollment penalty if you go without :

  • some type of Medicare prescription drug coverage
  • or other creditable prescription drug coverage

for 63 days or more after your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period is over.

Step 4: Enroll in the plan

Enroll in the Medicare Part D plan you’ve selected before your enrollment period is over. If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you may have to wait until the next Open Enrollment Period in order to enroll in Medicare Part D.

Are you ready to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan in your area? Just enter your zip code on this page to start comparing Medicare Part D plans.

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