Although original Medicare covers most prescription drugs while you are hospitalized, it does not cover drugs you are prescribed as an outpatient. Over the years, with the steep increases in the price of drugs, this became a serious financial problem for many seniors.
Medicare Part D, also known as the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, went into effect on January 1, 2006. Essentially, the new law mandated that everyone receiving Medicare would have to have prescription drug coverage of some type. Some people may get that benefit from an employer, others from the Veterans Administration or other sources. But those people without other cover must purchase a PDP (Prescription Drug Plan) from an insurance company when they first start getting their Medicare benefits. If they don’t, and then at a later date decide they do want to purchase such a plan, they will face a penalty added to the cost of their plan for as long as they have the plan.
People who purchase a Medicare Advantage Plan can opt to purchase drug coverage with most of those plans. Medicare Supplement Plans, however, do not offer that option and so the purchase of a separate PDP is necessary in addition to the Supplement.
Outlook for 2017
The government website Medicare.gov lists 24 separate PDP plans available in our area for the coming year. Some companies offer more than one plan, so the actual number of companies offering plans is less than that. There is obviously plenty of choice when it comes to selecting plans. As with all of these plans, you can do the research yourself with the best starting point being Medicare.gov, and then do some additional research on the plans that seem most appealing to you. As an alternate you can always contact an experienced agent who specializes in this type of coverage. You can make an appointment with me by calling (208) 263-2194 or by filling out the Contact Form. And be sure to review the shopping tips you will find on the How to Shop page.