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Back to Basics: Medicare Part D

It’s summer already, and the year seems to be flying by! Before we know it, the fall open enrollment period will be here for the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit as well as Medicare Part C, better known as Medicare Advantage. It’s important that beneficiaries know about the Medicare program and how we can utilize its resources, particularly access to prescription drug coverage that comes through Medicare Part D as well as most Medicare Advantage plans. A great way to get an easy refresher on the Medicare program overall is by watching this short clip here, which provides a brief overview of these important benefits. Arming yourself with the most comprehensive knowledge about Medicare is critical, especially for those of you who are turning 65 this year, or have friends or relatives that are becoming eligible.

Today, let’s go back to basics with an easy primer on one of the parts of Medicare—Medicare Part D!

Medicare Part D is the part of Medicare that covers prescription medications. One thing that differentiates Part D from other parts of Medicare is that the program is optional. Beneficiaries are automatically enrolled in parts A and B of Medicare when they reach age 65, however, beneficiaries must choose to opt-in to the Medicare Part D program and are not automatically enrolled.

Unlike other parts of Medicare, which are administered by the federal government, Medicare Part D coverage is provided through private insurers. Under the program drug manufacturers and private plans negotiate drug prices directly, allowing for a wider variety of treatment options and medication choices for beneficiaries.

This unique structure allows for and encourages increased competition among insurers, which aids beneficiaries by allowing individuals to shop around for the best-tailored plan for their unique health care needs. You can watch a quick video about how this competitive structure drives down the overall cost of Medicare Part D plans here.

There are a variety of Medicare Part D plans to choose from, each with different prescription drug formularies, coverage options, and costs. An easy way to find a plan that works for you is to use this interactive tool, which can help provide easy access to information about uniquely-tailored plans that could work for you.

Open enrollment will be here before we know it, and it is imperative that beneficiaries are equipped with the information we need to make smart decisions for our health. Opting in to Medicare Part D is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so make sure you utilize these resources to keep up-to-speed on all things Part D!