If you suspect you're a scam target, AARP's fraud helpline is here for you. Learn more.
En español | To get Medicare drug coverage you must join a private plan that is regulated by Medicare but run by an insurance company. The plan can be a “stand-alone” Part D drug plan — one that offers only drug coverage and is the type that can be used by people enrolled in the original Medicare program. Or it can be a Medicare Advantage plan (such as an HMO or PPO) that offers Part D drug coverage as well as medical coverage in its benefits package.
Within these two broad categories are many individual plans, each of which has different costs and benefits. Each plan has its own formulary — the list of drugs it covers — and sets the amount it charges for each drug. Therefore, it’s important to realize that (a) no plan covers all drugs; (b) different plans can charge widely varying copays even for the same drug; and (c) plans can change their costs (premiums, deductibles, copays) and formularies every calendar year.
If you’re enrolled in the original Medicare program, you have many stand-alone Part D plans to choose from — at least 18 in each state.
In the Medicare Advantage program, the number of plan choices varies according to where you live. Most of these plans include Part D prescription drug coverage. Note that if you enroll in an HMO or PPO that doesn’t offer drug coverage, you cannot join a stand-alone Part D plan to get drug coverage. But if you enroll in a much less common type of Medicare Advantage plan called a private fee-for-service (PFFS) plan, and it doesn’t offer drug benefits, you would be able to add prescription drug coverage by joining a stand-alone Part D plan.
For information on how Part D works, see AARP’s consumer guide to the program, at http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/medicare_partD_guide/.
Return to Medicare Q&A Tool main page >>
Enter address, city, state, or ZIP code.
Driver Safety (0)
Tax Aide (0)
Entertainment & Dining (0)
Healthcare & Insurance (0)
Financial Services & Insurance (0)
Member Local Offers (0)
Visit the AARP state page for information about events, news and resources near you.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at