WHAT PART D COVERS

 

 What Medicare Part D Drug Plans Cover


Each plan that offers prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D must give at least a standard level of coverage set by Medicare. Plans can vary the list of prescription drugs they cover (called a formulary) and how they place drugs into different "tiers" on their formularies.


List of covered prescription drugs (formulary)


Most Medicare drug plans (Medicare Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Advantage Plans with prescription drug coverage) have their own list of what drugs are covered, called a formulary. Plans include both brand-name prescription drugs and generic drug coverage. The formulary includes at least 2 drugs in the most commonly prescribed categories and classes. This helps make sure that people with different medical conditions can get the prescription drugs they need. All Medicare drug plans generally must cover at least 2 drugs per drug category, but plans can choose which drugs covered by Part D they will offer.


The formulary might not include your specific drug. However, in most cases, a similar drug should be available. If you or your prescriber (your doctor or other health care provider who’s legally allowed to write prescriptions) believes none of the drugs on your plan’s formulary will work for your condition, you can ask for an exception.


A Medicare drug plan can make some changes to its drug list during the year if it follows guidelines set by Medicare. Your plan may change its drug list during the year because drug therapies change, new drugs are released, or new medical information becomes available.


Plans offering Medicare prescription drug coverage under Part D may immediately remove drugs from their formularies after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers them unsafe or if their manufacturer removes them from the market. Plans meeting certain requirements also can immediately remove brand name drugs from their formularies and replace them with new generic drugs, or they can change the cost or coverage rules for brand name drugs when adding new generic drugs. If you’re currently taking any of these drugs, you’ll get information about the specific changes made afterwards.


For other changes involving a drug you’re currently taking that will affect you during the year, your plan must do one of these:

  • Give you written notice at least 30 days before the date the change becomes effective.
  • At the time you request a refill, provide written notice of the change and at least a month’s supply under the same plan rules as before the change.


Note
For 2019 and beyond, drug plans offering Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) that meet certain requirements also can immediately remove brand name drugs from their formularies and replace them with new generic drugs, or they can change the cost or coverage rules for brand name drugs when adding new generic drugs. If you’re taking these drugs, you’ll get information about the specific changes made to generic drug coverage afterwards.


You may need to change the drug you use or pay more for it. You can also ask for an exception. Generally, using drugs on your plan’s formulary will save you money. If you use a drug that isn’t on your plan’s drug list, you’ll have to pay full price instead of a copayment or coinsurance, unless you qualify for a formulary exception. All Medicare drug plans have negotiated to get lower prices for the drugs on their drug lists, so using those drugs will generally save you money. Also, using generic drugs instead of brand-name drugs may save you money.


Generic Drugs


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says generic drugs are copies of brand-name drugs and are the same as those brand-name drugs in:

  • dosage form
  • safety
  • strength
  • route of administration
  • quality
  • performance characteristics
  • intended use


Generic drugs use the same active ingredients as brand-name prescription drugs. Generic drug makers must prove to the FDA that their product works the same way as the brand-name prescription drug. In some cases, there may not be a generic drug the same as the brand-name drug you take, but there may be another generic drug that will work as well for you. Talk to your doctor or other prescriber about your generic drug coverage.


Tiers


To lower costs, many plans offering prescription drug coverage place drugs into different “tiers” on their formularies. Each plan can divide its tiers in different ways. Each tier costs a different amount. Generally, a drug in a lower tier will cost you less than a drug in a higher tier.


Here's an example of a Medicare drug plan's tiers (your plan’s tiers may be different):

  • Tier 1—lowest copayment : most generic prescription drugs
  • Tier 2—medium copayment: preferred, brand-name prescription drugs
  • Tier 3—higher copayment: non-preferred, brand-name prescription drugs
  • Specialty tier—highest copayment: very high cost prescription drugs


************A Generic Specialty Drug Tier is expected to be available on 1/1/2021.


In some cases, if your drug is in a higher (more expensive) tier and your prescriber .thinks you need that drug instead of a similar drug on a lower tier, you can file an exception and ask your plan for a lower copayment.


Remember, this is only an example—your drug plan's tiers may be different.

 

Medication Therapy Management Programs For Complex Health Needs


If you're in a Medicare drug plan and take medications for different medical conditions, you may be eligible for a free Medication Therapy Management (MTM) program. This program helps you and your doctor make sure that your medications are working to improve your health.


Through the MTM you'll get:


  • A comprehensive review of your medications and the reasons why you take them.
  • A written summary of your medication review with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • An action plan to help you make the best use of your medications (there will be space for you to take notes or write down any follow-up questions.)


A pharmacist or other health professional will talk with you about:


  • Whether your medications have side effects
  • If there might be interactions between the drugs you're taking
  • Whether your costs can be lowered
  • Other problems you’re having


It’s a good idea to schedule your medication review before your yearly wellness visit, so you can talk to your doctor about your action plan and medication list. 


Bring your action plan and medication list with you to your visit or anytime you talk with your doctors, pharmacists, and other health care providers. Also, take your medication list with you if you go to the hospital or emergency room. 


If you take many medications for more than one chronic health condition, contact your drug plan to see if you're eligible for a Medication Therapy Management program. 
 

 

Using Your Drug Plan For The First Time


What do I bring to the pharmacy?


  • Your red, white, and blue Medicare card 
  • A photo ID (like a state driver’s license or passport)
  • Your plan membership card


Automatic Refill Mail-Order Service For Prescription Drugs


Some people with Medicare get their prescription drugs by using an “automatic refill” service that automatically delivers prescription drugs when you’re about to run out. In the past, some prescription drug plans weren’t making sure that some customers still wanted or needed a prescription drug and this created waste and unnecessary additional costs for people with Medicare and Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D).


Now, plans have to get your approval to deliver a prescription (new or refill) unless you ask for the refill or request the new prescription. Some plans may ask you for your approval every year so that they can send you all new prescriptions without asking you before each delivery. Other plans may ask you before each delivery.

This policy won’t affect refill reminder programs where you go in person to pick up the prescription, and it won’t apply to long-term care pharmacies that give out and deliver prescription drugs. Giving your approval may be a change for you if you've always used mail-order in the past and haven't had the opportunity to confirm that you still need refills.


Note: Be sure to give your pharmacy the best way to reach you, so you don't miss the refill confirmation call or other communication.


Contact your plan if you get any unwanted prescription drugs through an automated delivery program.


You may be eligible for a refund for the amount you were charged. If you aren’t able to resolve the issue with the plan or wish to file a complaint, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).


If you have both Medicare and Medicaid or qualify for Extra Help, also bring proof of your enrollment in Medicaid or proof that you qualify for Extra Help


Using Network Pharmacies


Medicare drug plans have contracts with "network pharmacies." These pharmacies have agreed to provide members of certain Medicare plans with services and supplies at a discounted price. In some Medicare plans, your prescriptions are only covered if you get them filled at network pharmacies.


Along with retail pharmacies, your plan’s network might include preferred pharmacies, a mail-order program, or an option for retail pharmacies to supply a 2- or 3-month supply.


  • Preferred pharmacies. If your plan has preferred pharmacies, you may save money on your out-of-pocket prescription drug costs (like a copayment or coinsurance ) at a preferred pharmacy because it has agreed with your plan to charge less.


  • Mail-order programs. Some plans may offer a mail-order program that allows you to get up to a 3-month supply of your covered prescription drugs sent directly to your home. This may be a cost-effective and convenient way to fill prescriptions you take regularly.


  • 2- or 3-month retail pharmacy programs. Some retail pharmacies may also offer a 2- or 3-month supply of covered prescription drugs.


Filling a Prescription Without Your New Plan Card


If you go to the pharmacy before your drug plan card arrives, you can use any of these as proof of your drug plan enrollment:


  • The acknowledgement, confirmation, or welcome letter you got from the plan.
  • An enrollment confirmation number you got from the plan, and the plan name and phone number.
  • A temporary card you may be able to print from MyMedicare.gov.


If you don't have any of these items, your pharmacist may be able to get your drug plan information. You'll need to provide your Medicare Number or the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number.


If your pharmacist can't get your drug plan information, you may have to pay out-of-pocket costs for your prescriptions. If you do, save your receipts and contact your plan to get your money back.