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There are 2 ways to get prescription drug coverage through Medicare, either by a stand alone Drug plan or through a Medicare Advantage plan with drug coverage. To get Part D you must have and/or be eligible for Part A and B. Prescription drug plans cover drug purchased through a retail pharmacy or mail order pharmacy.
Like Part B, there is a penalty for not taking Part D when first eligible. That penalty is 1% per month you go w/o a drug plan until you enroll in one for the average cost of a drug plan (Approx. $35.00 monthly). Example not enrolled for 12 months
All Part D drug plans have to follow rules set by Medicare. RX Plans have to carry 2 drugs minimum in each family of their formulary* for a particular condition. All Part D plan are subject to various "Enrollment Periods" For a list click here. Every drug plan works on a tiered system of pricing there are 5 tiers to every drug plan.
Drug Plan Tiers:
Every Drug Plan has 4 "Stages" works on a calendar year.
*It is very important that you do and annual review of your prescription drug plan as the plan can change drugs in and out of a formulary and once December 7th passes you are locked into the plan you are on until next open enrollment (October 7th thru December 7th)