Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)
You can enroll in a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan during your Initial Enrollment Period for Part D.
You are eligible for prescription drug coverage if:
- You live in a service area covered by the health plan
- AND you have Medicare Part A and/or Medicare Part B.
Generally, your IEP for Part D will occur at the same time as your IEP for Medicare Part B.
Once you are eligible for Medicare Part D, you must either enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan, Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan, or have creditable prescription drug coverage (prescription drug coverage that is expected to pay at least as much as standard Medicare prescription drug coverage).
Some people may choose to delay Medicare Part D enrollment if they already have covered prescriptions through an employer’s health insurance plan.
However, if you do not sign up when you are first eligible for Part D, you may have to pay a late-enrollment penalty for signing up if you go without creditable prescription drug coverage for 63 or more consecutive days.
Source info: Medicare.gov
Annual Election Period (AEP)
If you did not enroll in prescription drug coverage during your IEP, you could sign up for initial coverage during the Annual Election Period that runs yearly from October 15 to December 7. During AEP, you can:
- Sign up for a Medicare prescription drug plan
- Drop a Medicare prescription drug plan
- Join a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan that doesn’t include prescription drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage plan that does (and vice versa).
Outside of the Part D Initial Enrollment Period and the AEP, usually the only time you can make changes to prescription drug coverage without a qualifying Special Election Period is during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period but only if you are dropping Medicare Advantage coverage and switching back to Original Medicare. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period runs from January 1 to March 31.
Medicare Part A and Part B do not include prescription drug coverage and generic drug costs. If you switch back to Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period, you will have until March 31 to join a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan.