I’m currently on Original Medicare, but I didn’t originally sign up for drug coverage. Am I stuck with this decision? Or can I somehow add drug coverage?
A: The good news is that you’re not stuck with your decision – but there are a few caveats.
In your case, since it sounds like you’re not a new enrollee into Medicare, you can only sign-up for "Part D" drug coverage during a certain designated period. This is known as the "open enrollment’ period," and it actually starts soon: It runs from Oct. 15th through Dec. 7. (Your new Part D coverage would then take effect Jan. 1.)
It’s also important to note that you may be subject to a Part D late-enrollment penalty if you’ve gone without "creditable" drug coverage for more than 63 continuous days since the end of your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period. This penalty would be added to your monthly Part D premium for perpetuity (in most cases), and the amount depends on how many months you’ve went without the coverage. The amount can also change from year-to-year.
And while we don’t want to make things confusing, we also want to mention that during this upcoming open enrollment period you’re also allowed to switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan (also known as "Part C"). Medicare Advantage Plans are basically an all-in-one alternative to Original Medicare – and typically come with built-in drug coverage. This could be worth looking into.
The Simply Money Point: The world of Medicare isn’t the easiest to navigate. Be sure to visit online at Medicare.gov/plan-compare to compare all your options before making any concrete decisions. And if you decide to stick with Original Medicare and add on Part D, don’t miss the open enrollment window.