Should I Enroll in Medicare Part D?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 13, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Should I enroll in Medicare Part D plan if I don't take any prescription drugs?

Expert Answers

 For someone who doesn't take regular prescription drugs, the answer is probably no -- especially if the premium, which averages $35 a month, is more than she typically spends on prescriptions.
But she might still want to consider enrolling in a Medicare Part D plan if one is offered in her state for a very low ($5 a month or less) or no premium. That's because if she doesn't enroll in any Part D plan when first eligible for Medicare (at age 65) but she does later join a plan, she'll pay a penalty -- 1 percent per month on her premiums for every month she's delayed after turning 65. This premium penalty applies to any plan she eventually enrolls in, and the penalty is permanent.

Although she doesn't regularly use any prescription drugs now, it's likely that she'll regularly need some such drugs -- perhaps some very expensive ones -- as she gets older. Once she does need those drugs, a Medicare Part D plan will probably make them cheaper. But if she delays a long time before enrolling in any plan, the monthly penalty amount could offset much of the plan's savings. If she can find a plan that has a very low premium ($5 a month or less), she might want to enroll in it even though she can't use it right now. Enrolling in a Part D plan will keep her from running up a monthly permanent penalty. And if she pays very little for it, it's likely to save her money in the long run.

Also, she doesn't have to worry now about whether one of these inexpensive plans provides good coverage. Individuals are allowed to switch Medicare Part D plans every year, so if and when she does begin to regularly take prescription drugs, she can switch to a plan that provides good coverage for those specific drugs.