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If I drop my Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage during open enrollment, can I pick it up in the future without a penalty?

En español | You risk late penalties only if, after turning 65, you go for more than 63 days without Part D or “creditable” drug coverage from elsewhere. This coverage could be from a current employer (your own or your spouse’s), retiree benefits from a former employer, COBRA temporary insurance, coverage from the Veterans Affairs health system, or private health insurance that you’ve purchased yourself. This drug coverage is “creditable” if Medicare considers it to be of equal or better value than Part D coverage. 

So, for example, if you enroll in a Part D drug plan at the time you retire, but later return to work in a job that provides creditable drug insurance, you would drop the Part D plan. On leaving that job, you would need to be enrolled in a Part D drug plan again within 63 days — or, to be on the safe side, two months — to avoid late penalties. 

If you missed the 63-day deadline, you would not be able to reenroll until the next open enrollment period in the fall (with coverage beginning Jan. 1), and you would pay late penalties based on how many months you’d been without Part D or other creditable drug coverage since turning 65. 

If you drop out of a Part D plan during open enrollment, you need to notify the plan that you want your coverage to end on Dec. 31. Otherwise, it will carry over into the new year and you will continue to be responsible for paying its premiums. 


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