Prescription costs can be quite hefty for seniors. Although individuals 65 and older comprise about 15 percent of the U.S. population, they consume around 34 percent of prescription drugs. The average senior takes 5 prescription drugs. Based on AARP’s figures, this amounts to more than $30,000 per year. Therefore it is vitally important to make sure you apply for Medicare Part D as soon as you are able.
Your Part D Individual Enrollment Period (IEP) is usually the same as your Medicare IEP: the seven-month period that includes the three months before, the month of, and the three months following your 65th birthday. For example, let’s say you turn 65 in May. Your IEP runs from February 1 to August 31.
The date when your Part D coverage begins depends on when you sign up:
- Enrolling during the first three months of the IEP means coverage begins the first day of the fourth month.
- Enrolling during the fourth month of the IEP or any of the three months afterward means coverage begins the month following the month of enrollment.
You should enroll in Part D as soon as you are eligible to avoid a potential late enrollment penalty and gaps in coverage. If you do not enroll in Part D during your IEP, you can also enroll in or make changes to Part D coverage during the Fall Open Enrollment Period—but you may have a late enrollment penalty if you are using Fall Open Enrollment to enroll in Part D for the first time.