An older woman sitting on a sofa looks at information on a prescription bottle

Medicare Part D

Get your medicines covered with Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage

Prescription drugs and vaccines are likely near the top of your list when it comes to your well-being, and coverage for both is important for staying healthy. But Original Medicare doesn’t cover medicines outside of those given while you’re at the doctor’s office or during a hospital stay, and it only covers certain vaccines. Medicare Part D (more comprehensive prescription drug and vaccine coverage) can help.

On this page, you can find information about:

What is Medicare Part D coverage?

Medicare Part D is the part of Medicare that provides prescription drug coverage. It also covers several vaccines (at no cost to you) beyond those covered by Medicare Part B.

Part D coverage is available in two ways:

  • Medicare Advantage plans – Most Medicare Advantage plans include Part D, grouping all your coverage in one plan.
  • Stand-alone Part D plans – These plans let you add prescription drug coverage to Original Medicare and several other plan types.

Medicare Part D enrollment

You can sign up for Part D coverage as soon as you’re eligible for Original Medicare under your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). You must enroll in Parts A and B before Part D.

Medicare Part D drug tiers

Part D coverage varies for different types of prescription drugs, which are grouped into tiers. In general, drugs in lower tiers have lower costs, and drugs in higher tiers have higher costs.

For example, HealthPartners UnityPoint Health plans have five tiers:

  • Tier 1: Preferred generic drugs – This is the lowest tier. Lower-cost, commonly used generic drugs are in this tier.
  • Tier 2: Generic drugs – High-cost, commonly used generic drugs are in this tier.
  • Tier 3: Preferred brand drugs – Brand-name drugs without a lower-cost generic therapeutic equivalent are in this tier.
  • Tier 4: Non-preferred drugs – Higher-cost generic drugs and brand-name drugs with a lower-cost generic therapeutic equivalent are in this tier.
  • Tier 5: Specialty drugs – This is the highest tier. Unique and/or very high-cost generic and brand-name drugs are in this tier.

Part D has four stages of coverage, and you pay a different amount for your prescriptions in each stage. The coverage cycle begins on January 1 of each year. The cost of the prescription drugs you use will determine the number of stages you’ll reach throughout the year. It’s important to understand how the coverage stages work so you’re prepared for any changing costs.

Our Medicare Advantage plans include Part D coverage with no deductible, providing the added convenience of having all your coverage in one plan. Members can expect benefits like:

  • Fewer phone calls: You’ll have one number for all your questions. With two separate plans, you’d have to call one number with your medical questions and another number about your medications.
  • One member ID card:Along with one member ID number, one card helps keep things simple.
  • Knowing your medicines: A combined plan can help you manage your medicines and make sure you get the most benefit from them through the medication therapy management (MTM) program.

Dig into the details about Medicare Part D

We have a lot more information about Medicare Part D available, including:

Legal information

Last updated October 2023
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