How to enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan

Once you have Medicare Parts A and B (often called Original Medicare), you’re eligible for a Part D prescription drug plan. These plans can vary based on price, coverage, and the formulary—the list of covered prescription drugs. Because each Medicare Part D plan may be different, it’s important to compare plans before you enroll.

There are 2 different ways you can get prescription drug coverage. You could enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan, or you could get drug coverage as part of a Medicare Advantage plan. There are also a few different ways you can enroll:1


When can I sign up for Medicare Part D?

Your first chance to sign up for Medicare Part D is during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). But there are other opportunities to enroll, too. You may be able to enroll during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP), or the annual enrollment period for Medicare.2

Initial enrollment period for Part D

The IEP for Medicare starts 3 months before the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after. During this period, you can choose a Part D plan once you enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B.3

Open enrollment period (annually) for Part D

You can make changes to your Medicare coverage—including your Part D prescription drug plan—during the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP). This is sometimes called the Open Enrollment Period or Fall Open Enrollment. It runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year. During the Medicare AEP, you can add, switch or drop your Part D coverage. Any changes you make will take effect on Jan. 1 the following year.4

Medicare Advantage open enrollment period (annually)

The Medicare Advantage OEP is your chance to make changes to your Medicare Advantage coverage. It lasts from Jan. 1 to March 31 each year. During this time, you can switch from 1 Medicare Advantage plan to another. You may also disenroll from Medicare Advantage and go back to Original Medicare. If you return to Original Medicare, you can choose a standalone Part D plan during this period. Any changes you make will take effect on the first day of the following month.5

Special enrollment period for Part D

During certain life events, you may be able to enroll in a new Medicare Part D plan. This period after a qualifying life event is called a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). There are several conditions that may trigger an SEP, including loss of current drug coverage or moving outside your plan’s service area. See Medicare.gov’s list of qualifying life events, along with details on how to change your Part D plan.6

Medicare Part D enrollment: Common mistakes to avoid

One major pitfall you’ll want to avoid with your Medicare prescription drug coverage is the late enrollment penalty. This penalty is an amount that is permanently added to your Medicare drug plan’s premium. You may have to pay this penalty if there is a period of 63 days or more after your Medicare IEP where you don’t have creditable prescription drug coverage. “Creditable drug coverage” refers to a drug plan that pays at least as much as Medicare Part D on average.7

There are a few common mistakes that could land you with a late enrollment penalty:8

  • Not enrolling in Medicare as soon as you can: Try to enroll in a Medicare or Medicare Advantage drug plan as soon as you qualify for Medicare. That way, you can avoid a late enrollment penalty later, even if you don’t need prescription drugs right now.
  • Not getting Medicare drug coverage if you lose other insurance: Once you go 63 days in a row without a Medicare drug plan or creditable drug coverage, you run the risk of getting a late enrollment penalty.
  • Not keeping track of your records: If you get your prescription drugs with the help of creditable drug coverage, keep your plan’s records handy. If you don’t tell your Medicare plan about this coverage, you may end up having to pay the late enrollment penalty.

When you enroll, it’s important to compare plans before you make a decision. Medicare Part D plans may differ based on their pharmacy networks, their premiums or the drugs they cover. Make sure you find a plan that works best for you.

Humana answers your Medicare questions

Source

  1. “Use Medicare's Plan Finder to Choose, Enroll in Part D,” AARP, last accessed March 1, 2022, https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-2022/part-d-enrollment.html.
  2. “Medicare AEP vs. OEP: Know Your Enrollment Periods,” MedicareAdvantage.com, last accessed March 1, 2022, https://www.medicareadvantage.com/enrollment/medicare-aep-vs-oep.
  3. “How to Enroll in a Medicare Part D Drug Plan,” Verywell Health, last accessed March 1, 2022, https://www.verywellhealth.com/medicare-part-d-enrollment-1738870.
  4. “Medicare AEP vs. OEP: Know Your Enrollment Periods.”
  5. “Medicare AEP vs. OEP: Know Your Enrollment Periods.”
  6. “Special circumstances (Special Enrollment Periods),” last accessed March 1, 2022, https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/when-can-i-join-a-health-or-drug-plan/special-circumstances-special-enrollment-periods.
  7. “Part D late enrollment penalty,” last accessed March 1, 2022, https://www.medicare.gov/drug-coverage-part-d/costs-for-medicare-drug-coverage/part-d-late-enrollment-penalty.
  8. “3 ways to avoid the Part D late enrollment penalty,” last accessed March 1, 2022, https://www.medicare.gov/drug-coverage-part-d/costs-for-medicare-drug-coverage/part-d-late-enrollment-penalty/3-ways-to-avoid-the-part-d-late-enrollment-penalty.

How can we help?

Call us

Licensed Humana sales agents are available
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., local time.

1-888-204-4062 (TTY: 711)

See plans in your area

Enter your ZIP code below to see plans with their premiums, copays, and participating doctors and pharmacies.

Request a call

Our licensed Humana sales agents are available to help you select the coverage that best meets your needs.