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How to Choose a Medicare Part D Drug Plan

Medicare Prescription Drug Plans are also known as Part D plans. They help you pay for prescription drugs. Medicare works with insurance companies and other private companies to offer many drug plans. You'll want to look at each plan to see how much it costs, what drugs it covers, and what pharmacies it works with.

To get a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, you must already have Medicare Part A and Part B. You will pay for this drug plan in addition to what you pay for Parts A and B. If you have trouble paying, you may be able to get financial aid.

You can find and compare Part D plans available near you by using the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder.

Once you sign up for a plan, you may not be able to make changes for a year. Here are some things to consider to ensure you make the best choice for you:

Make sure that the drugs you need are on the plan's drug list, called its formulary. A drug plan won't help pay for medicines that aren't on its list. Be thorough and check the details. Even if a drug is on the formulary, look closely to make sure it's covered at the dose and quantity you need. Also look to see if the plan requires you to get prior approval from your doctor for the medicine before they help pay for it.

If drugs you need aren't listed, talk to your doctor before you enroll in a plan. Your doctor may be able to prescribe different medicines that will work as well.

Compare the costs. The deductibles, premiums, and copays or coinsurance for Medicare prescription drug plans will be different. 

Check the pharmacies. Some plans will only work with certain pharmacies. So make sure that the pharmacy that you use -- or another one nearby -- is on the list. If you like to have your medicines delivered by mail, check for that, too.

Once you've chosen the plan that best fits your needs, call the specific plan to find out how to enroll. You will probably receive a form in the mail that you can fill out and return. You can also enroll online. See Medicare Eligibility and Enrollment to learn more about the best times to enroll.

For more information about Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, see the Medicare web site or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

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