Key Term: Creditable Coverage - Coverage which is expected to pay, on average, at least as much as Medicare's typical coverage. 

Everyone who is eligible for Medicare is offered prescription drug coverage. You should consider joining a Medicare drug plan, even if you are currently not taking any prescriptions. If you don’t enroll in a drug plan when you first become eligible and you don’t have other creditable prescription drug coverage, you will most likely have to pay a late enrollment penalty when you do join. The penalty is an amount added to the cost of the plan.  That penalty (or extra added cost) will continue for as long as you have Medicare prescription drug coverage.


Medicare prescription drug coverage can be obtained in two different ways. 1) You can buy a stand-alone plan which you can use in conjunction with some Private Fee-for-service plans, in conjunction with some Medicare Cost plans, in conjunction with Medicare Medical Savings Plans, or in conjunction with Original Medicare. Remember that before you can join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, you must have Part A and/or B. 2) You can enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (MAPD).  All MAPDs include drug coverage.  With an MAPD, you receive all the benefits offered by Original Medicare, plus supplemental benefits not offered by Original Medicare. Before you can join a MAPD, you must have both Parts A and B and you must life in the plan’s service area.


Individuals who are covered under an employer or union plan should contact their benefits administrator prior to making any changes. This is important because once you drop your employer/union drug coverage, getting it back mat be impossible. You must also find out if you can drop the drug coverage but retain your medical coverage.  Keep in mind that if you have a spouse and/or other dependents on your plan and you drop your coverage, your spouse and/or dependents will also be dropped.

Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D)