Medicare FAQ

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Find answers to your questions about Medicare:

What is Medicare Part D?

Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) helps you pay for both brand-name and generic drugs. Medicare drug plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare.

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Am I eligible for the Medicare prescription drug plan?

To join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, you must have Medicare Part A or have Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). You must also live in the service area of the Medicare health plan or drug plan you want to join.

Once you become eligible for Medicare, you have the opportunity to obtain drug coverage:

  • During your initial 7-month Medicare enrollment period. (3 months before and 3 months after, as well as the month of, your 65th birthday)
  • During the 3 months before and the 3 months after your 25th month of receiving disability benefits.
  • 63 days after your creditable insurance coverage ends or during the annual enrollment period, which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year.

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How do I enroll in a Medicare drug plan?

Once you work with your fred’s Pharmacist to choose the Medicare drug plan that is best for you, you can enroll in any of the following ways:

  • Enroll using our the Medicare website or on the plan’s website.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
  • Complete a paper enrollment form.

When you join a Medicare drug plan, you'll give your Medicare number and the date your Part A and/or Part B coverage started. (This information is on your Medicare card.)

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How do I switch plans?

You can change plans during the Medicare prescription drug program's annual enrollment period, which is from October 15 to December 7 each year. (Those with both Medicare and Medicaid may change plans monthly, at any time throughout the year.)

  • You can switch to a new Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D) simply by joining another drug plan.
  • You don't need to cancel your old Medicare drug plan. Your old Medicare drug plan coverage will end when your new drug plan begins.
  • If you want to join a plan or switch plans, do so as soon as possible so you’ll have your membership card when your coverage begins and can get prescriptions filled without delay. You should get a letter from your new Medicare drug plan telling you when your coverage begins.

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What if I choose not to enroll?

If you don´t join a Medicare drug plan during your initial enrollment period – or 63 days after your creditable insurance coverage ends – you may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty when you join. This amount changes every year but is approximately 1% of the plan's premium price for each month you delay enrolling plus a penalty for as long as you have Medicare prescription drug coverage.

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Can I receive financial assistance if I can’t afford a Medicare prescription drug plan?

If you have limited income and resources, you may qualify for Extra Help, a Medicare program to help pay Medicare prescription drug costs. To qualify for Extra Help in 2017, your yearly annual income must be limited to:

  • Individual – $18,090.
  • Married couple living together – $24,360.
  • These amounts may change in 2018.

You may qualify even if you have a higher income (like if you still work or have dependents living with you). If you qualify for Extra Help and join a Medicare drug plan, you'll:

  • Get help paying your Medicare drug plan’s costs.
  • Have no coverage gap.
  • Have no late-enrollment penalty.
  • Have the chance to switch plans at any time. Any change you make will take effect the first day of the following month.

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What should I do before choosing a Medicare drug plan?

  • Gather information about any drug coverage you may currently have, as well as a list of the drugs and doses you currently take. Also, gather any notices you’ve received from Medicare, Social Security or your current Medicare drug plan about changes to your plan.
  • Visit your local fred's Pharmacy. Your pharmacist can review your current prescriptions to help determine which Part D plan option is the best for you. fred's Pharmacy does not recommend any particular Part D plan, but we do think it's important for you to take advantage of the annual enrollment period to ensure you are getting coverage that meets your needs at an affordable cost.
  • Use the Medicare Plan Finder to get a list of the plans that best meet your needs in the area you live.
  • Apply for Extra Help if you have limited income and resources. There's no risk to submitting an application, and you can apply for Extra Help at any time throughout the year.

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How much will my prescriptions cost?

Prescription medications covered vary by plan. Talk to your fred’s Pharmacist to determine which Medicare Part D plan offers the best coverage for your current prescriptions.

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Is the plan I'm on the best option for me?

If you're currently enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan, you should think about a few things to decide if you are in “the right plan.” Each year, plan premiums, deductibles, prescription copayments and annual out-of-pocket expenses can change. These costs, as well as the list of covered drugs, vary from plan to plan and from region to region.

It’s a good idea to review the various plans available to you in light of your current and anticipated prescription needs and financial resources. You may want to consider whether there is a different plan available that may be more suited to your needs. Visit your fred's Pharmacist or use the Medicare Plan Finder to help determine which plan is best for you.

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Where can I get more information about Medicare Part D?

  • Visit your friendly fred's Pharmacist.
  • Visit MedicareFAQ.com to download free Medicare prescription drug coverage guides.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to get general or claims-specific Medicare information, request documents in alternate formats and make changes to your Medicare coverage. TTY: 1-877-486-2048.
  • Visit Medicare.gov

SOURCES:
MedicareFAQ.com
MedicareInteractive.org
Medicare.gov

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