If you’re a Louisiana resident seeking assistance with your prescription drug costs, you should examine whether or not Medicare’s Part D prescription drug plan meets your needs. As of 2016, Louisiana residents may choose from 22 separate Part D plans administered by 12 different health care providers under the direction of Medicare itself. To qualify for one of these plans, you’ll need to be enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and Part B. You’ll also need to submit an application to the Part D plan of your choice, usually through the provider’s website but occasionally in person via a traditional paper application form.
You should apply for an appropriate Part D plan as soon as possible. If you do not, you may be subject to health audits, higher monthly premiums, and even premiums that continually rise each year that you’re on Medicare.
Medicare Part D vs. Medicare Advantage
If you have Medicare Advantage, or you’ve found through your research that Medicare Advantage also provides prescription drug coverage and you’re considering it, there are several factors that bear mentioning. Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare Part C) is provided by a third-party health insurance company under Medicare’s guidance, just like the Part D prescription drug plan. Unlike Part D, Advantage plans don’t focus exclusively on drugs. Instead, they provide all of the coverage from Original Medicare Parts A and B along with various plan-specific additions. Advantage plans and Part D plans vary widely in price, coverage, and availability, so it’s important to understand all of the possible coverage options before making a commitment.
You’ll also want to talk to your Advantage administrator as well as the administrator of your proposed Part D drug plan. Some Advantage plans will be cancelled upon Part D enrollment, which means that you will then default to Original Medicare Part A and B if you choose to proceed.
When to sign up
Once you’ve picked an appropriate Part D plan, it’s time to sign up. You should make every effort to sign up during the Initial Enrollment Period, which is a seven-month window staggered around your Original Medicare eligibility date. This date is based on your birth month and your 65th birthday. You’re able to sign up for a Part D plan up to three months prior to this date and up to four months after it.
If you miss the initial period, you can still sign up during the Annual Election Period. This begins on October 15th and ends on December 7th each calendar year. If you miss this enrollment period as well, your final opportunity will occur during one of Medicare’s Special Election Periods. These periods are generally intended for those with hardships such as lost insurance, so it’s in your best interest to sign up for Part D during the Initial Enrollment Period or the Annual Election Period. If you do not, you may be subject to higher monthly premiums and health audits.
What are my choices?
The Medicare Part D services listed in the preceding table are provided in all Louisiana counties. Your county of residence may provide additional plans and services. Contact your local Medicare office for additional details.
Plans are subject to change as contracts are finalized.
Includes contracts/plans as of April 22, 2016. The data does not reflect information for employer-sponsored plans, Part B-only plans, or plans not offering a Part D drug benefit.