If you don't sign up when you're initially eligible, your Part A premium may go up 10 percent. For example, if you wait to sign up for Part A for a year after you were initially eligible, you'll have to pay the increased premium for 2 years (twice as long as the length of time you waited to sign up).
If you don't sign up when you're initially eligible, your Part B premium may also go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you could have had it but didn't sign up. This increase in your premium can last as long as you have Part B.
If you don't sign up when you're initially eligible for Part D coverage, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for the period you went without coverage.
Medicare Part D is for prescription drug coverage. To get Part D, you must join a Medicare plan that offers prescription drug coverage. There are two ways to get Medicare drug coverage:
Medicare Part D
Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C)
To research available plans or to find which part D plan you have:
Create an account (or check your account) at Medicare.gov
Call the Senior Linkage Line at 1-800-333-2433
You can enroll when you're initially eligible for Medicare or during annual open enrollment, which usually takes place from mid-October through mid-December. To learn more, find out how to get prescription drug coverage from Social Security.
For an introduction to part D and prescription drugs, check out the Medicare Made Clear video (01:55) below.
Each insurance plan has a list of approved medications, called a formulary. Formularies vary by plan. If your prescription isn't on this list, it won't be covered by your insurance. Also, some drugs are excluded from Part D coverage by law.
If your prescription isn't covered by your insurance, you might:
Check with your insurance plan to see if they will cover a generic version of the drug.
Ask your doctor to request an exception from the insurance plan. If other drugs may be dangerous or less effective for you, your doctor can ask for something called a formulary exception. Or, your doctor might ask the insurance plan to cover your prescription at a lower cost. This is called a tiering exception. If your insurance plan doesn't agree to the exception, you can file an appeal.
If your prescription was covered before you switched plans or before your plan changed its coverage rules, ask your pharmacist to give you a temporary supply of your prescription through your plan's transition refill policy.