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What Part D Covers

Medicare Part D plans offer you a way to control the cost of prescription medications. Before Part D was introduced in 2006, Medicare recipients generally paid the entire cost of their medications or bought Medicare Supplements that, at the time, had very limited drug coverage. What Part D covers now provides us with a much better solution.


What Medicare Part D covers:

Part D plans have extensive formularies of medications to treat many different illnesses and conditions.

Medicare Part D allows for coverage of most retail prescription drugs in the United States. Each plan maintains a list of medications, or formulary, that it covers. Medicare requires that the plan must offer at least two drugs in each therapeutic class. Also, they cover all or substantially all drugs in six categories. Those categories are antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, immunosuppressants, anti-cancer medications, and HIV/AIDS drugs.

These requirements mean that any drug plan you enroll in will have many medications to treat you for future illnesses.

Part D drug plans also cover many common vaccines, such as the shingles vaccine, to prevent illness.


There are a few types of medications that Medicare does not require drug plan carriers to include in their formularies. These are:

  • Barbiturates – sedatives or other drugs that depress the central nervous system
  • Benzodiazepines – commonly prescribed for insomnia or anxiety
  • Fertility or erectile dysfunction medications
  • Drugs for cosmetic reasons, such as hair growth
  • Drugs for weight loss, weight gain, or anorexia
  • Prescription strength vitamins and minerals
  • Cough syrups or other meds that treat cold symptoms
  • Compound medications – Part D plans typically do not cover compounded medications. If you take a dose of a medication that is different from the standard dosage, that requires compounding, then typically you will pay the retail price for that medication.


For these exceptions, you may occasionally find a Part D drug plan carrier that offers the drug anyway. However, that is their choice to do so, and each year when the drug plan is re-filed with Medicare, the medication can be removed from the formulary for the next year if the insurance carrier wishes to no longer cover it.


Part B Medications

As you get older, it’s important to be aware of the types of medications that are covered by Medicare. Certain medications may fall under Part B instead of Part D. If you have Original Medicare with a traditional Supplement, these medications will generally be fully covered. However, if you have opted for a Medicare Advantage plan, you will pay the plan’s co-insurance as outlined in their benefit summary.

The primary categories of prescriptions that sometimes fall under Part B are:

  • Drugs provided in a physician’s office, such as chemotherapy medications
  • Medications are administered via durable medical equipment, such as nebulizers or internal or external pumps.
  • Immunosuppressive meds are commonly given after an organ transplant.
  • Some oral cancer or related anti-nausea medications that you administer to yourself.
  • Some medications that treat End-Stage Renal failure – an example would be Erythropoietin.
  • Drugs delivered in a hospital outpatient care situation.
  • Vaccines ordered by a physician, such as pneumonia or hepatitis vaccines.
  • Blood clotting factors.
  • Diabetes supplies – lancets, test strips, glucose monitors

Before deciding on your Medicare Part D drug plan, you will want to fully understand how Part D works and what rules and limits may apply to the plans available to you. Working with a knowledgeable insurance agent who focuses his or her practice primarily on Medicare products will greatly help you sort through all the rules and choose a suitable plan.

At UrMedicare, we provide FREE assistance to our new Medicare clients by analyzing their Medicare Part D drug plan needs and helping them with their initial sign-up for Part D. We then provide ongoing information and instructions on how to use Medicare’s Plan Finder to shop your Part D plan each fall. This exclusive help is limited to our Medigap policyholders ONLY. For help from a Boomer agent, contact us below.

If you are following our Medicare Learning Track, go here next: Learn Medicare Wrap-Up.


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