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Do I have to enroll in a Medicare drug plan?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

You don’t have to do anything (well, except maybe breathe). Enrolling in a Medicare drug plan is optional. If you elect not to enroll, you will pay for your prescription drugs on your own. Here’s the tricky part. While you can choose not to enroll in a drug plan right away, if you decide later on that you do want a plan because your doc just prescribed a ton of meds for you, you have to wait until the open enrollment period (mid-October to early December), and you will pay a penalty and a higher premium.

So enrolling in a drug plan when you are first eligible may be beneficial even if you don’t take a lot of prescription medications, especially because as you age, you may require more medication to stay healthy. If you are still working after age 65, and your employer offers health insurance, check with that employer, as enrolling in the drug benefit option of Medicare may make you ineligible for your employer’s drug benefit plan. But do enroll in Medicare within three months of your 65th birthday because your Social Security benefits may be tied to just enrolling.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.