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Medicare Part D is an optional part of Medicare. Part D refers to prescription drug coverage, which is, in large part, not covered by Medicare Parts A and B. This means that without Medicare Part D, you would be paying the full cost for prescription drugs. Depending on whether you have a gap plan, veteran plans, or Medicare Advantage, you may already have prescription drug coverage.
There are two ways to obtain Medicare Part D. First, you could enroll in Original Medicare and then add a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (PDP). Second, you could join a Medicare Advantage Plan or other health plans that have prescription drug coverage in their plan.
There are costs associated with prescription drug coverage. You will most likely have a monthly premium. If you choose the second method of obtaining prescription drug coverage, your Medicare Advantage Plan monthly premium may already include the prescription drug premium. Some plans have a yearly deductible. Additionally, you are responsible for copayments and coinsurance after the deductible, if applicable.
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If you do not join a Medicare drug plan when you are first eligible, do not have any other coverage, and would still like to join later, you will likely pay a late enrollment fee for joining late. This late fee is explained in more detail here.
Your monthly premium for part D is also dependent on your income. If you make above $87,000 if you file individually or $174,000 with joint filing, you will pay a higher amount for your monthly premium. This extra amount most often comes out of your Social Security check.
While Part D often comes with monthly premiums, it is a great way to avoid paying the full cost for prescription drugs.