When Can I Sign up for Medicare Part D?

Tamera Jackson by Tamera Jackson | Licensed since 2007
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This article was updated on: 11/23/2018

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Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage, as you may know. You might decide you need this coverage, but when can you get it? We’ll fill you in on when and how to enroll in Medicare Part D.

Why sign up for Medicare Part D?

Medicare Part D is optional – you don’t have to sign up for it. Part D is the prescription drug coverage “part” of Medicare. But you don’t automatically get Part D, even if you’re one of the many who get enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B automatically.

Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, doesn’t include prescription drug coverage, except in certain cases. Part A usually covers medications given as part of your treatment when you’re a hospital inpatient. Part B may cover prescription drugs administered to you in an outpatient setting, such as a clinic. But when it comes to medications you take at home, Original Medicare doesn’t cover them in most cases.

There’s another reason to think about signing up for Part D: if you don’t sign up when you’re first eligible for Medicare, you might have to pay a late enrollment penalty if you need medications at a later date and decide to sign up. Learn more about the Part D late enrollment penalty.

Can I sign up for Medicare Part D anytime?

Not just anytime, in most cases. Your opportunities to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan under Part D are somewhat limited. The most common enrollment periods are:

  • Your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period. For most people, this is the seven-month period that starts 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and continues three months after that.
  • The Annual Election Period (AEP), also called Fall Open Enrollment, October 15 – December 7 every year.
  • The 5-Star Special Enrollment Period. You can switch to a Medicare prescription drug plan with a 5-star rating from December 8 one year to November 30 the next Read more about the 5-star special enrollment period.
  • You might qualify for a different Special Enrollment Period (SEP) in some cases. Many SEPs involve losing your coverage. For example, if you have other creditable prescription drug coverage and your coverage ends, you might get an SEP when you can sign up for coverage under Medicare Part D.

You might also be able to make other coverage changes during some of these enrollment periods.

Medicare Part D comes in two flavors

There are two ways to get Medicare prescription drug coverage. Both are available from private, Medicare-approved insurance companies.

  • You can sign up for a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan to work beside your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage.
  • You can get your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits through a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan. Not every Medicare Advantage plan includes prescription drug benefits, but most do.

Both types of plans have mainly similar enrollment periods.

Sign up for Part D

Why not compare Medicare prescription drug plans and sign up right now? There’s no obligation. Just click the Find Plans button on this page to get started. Then, enter your prescription drugs to see what plans may cover them. Or, you can follow the links below to request that I send you an email with customized information, or to arrange a phone call with me.

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