The Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Benefit
Medicare Part D is a voluntary outpatient prescription drug benefit for people on Medicare that went into effect in 2006. All 57 million people on Medicare, including those ages 65 and older and those under age 65 with permanent disabilities, have access to the Part D drug benefit through private plans approved by the federal government; in 2016, nearly 41 million Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Part D plans. During the Medicare Part D open enrollment period, which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year, beneficiaries can choose to enroll in either stand-alone prescription drug plans (PDPs) to supplement traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage prescription drug (MA-PD) plans (mainly HMOs and PPOs) that cover all Medicare benefits including drugs. Beneficiaries with low incomes and modest assets are eligible for assistance with Part D plan premiums and cost sharing. This fact sheet provides an overview of the Medicare Part D program and information about 2017 plan offerings, based on data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other sources.
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