When Can You Join a Medicare Drug Plan?

Joining a Drug Plan During your Initial Open Enrollment Period

Part D Drug Plans can be added during your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period. This period includes 3 months before your 65th birthday, your birthday month and 3 months after your birthday month. It's best to sign up in the first three months before you turn 65 to avoid delays in coverage.

Anyone who has Original Medicare Part A or Part B can get Part D drug coverage during this period. Many Part C (Advantage) Plans also include drug coverage. These plans are known as MA-PDs. Anyone eligible for Medicare can sign up for one of these plans during their Initial Enrollment Period. Advantage Plans are also available to anyone who is enrolled in Original Medicare A AND B. Anyone who signs up for an Advantage Plan that does not provide prescription drug coverage can also sign up for a Part D policy.

Joining Yearly During Open Enrollment

Anyone who has Medicare and has prescription drug coverage can opt to add or change a prescription drug plan yearly during Open Enrollment. Open Enrollment for Part D is between October 15 and December 7th, 2011. Coverage will begin January 1, 2012.

Anyone Receiving Extra Help

Can Join or switch Part D Plans anytime.

Auntie Lou says, "Hey, I want Extra Help!"

Anyone Who Has Lost Other Creditable Coverage

Anyone who loses creditable prescription coverage through an employer, retiree health plan or any other type of private plan and receives Medicare is eligible for a Part D plan. Moving, insurance companies going out of business and other circumstances beyond your control that cause a loss in coverage can use this clause. Part D coverage must be purchased 60 days before the other coverage ends and up to 63 days after the coverage ends to avoid the Late Enrollment Penalty.

Disabled Persons

Disabled persons may join a Part D plan during the 7-month Initial Enrollment Period surrounding the 25th month of their disability. They will have an additional chance at Open Enrollment benefits like everyone else when turning 65. All of the above rules for joining also apply to disabled persons.