Do I need a Medicare Part D prescription plan if I have Blue Cross/Blue Shield work insurance?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 22, 2009
Poppy4198 asked...

I plan to work a few more years, and need to know if my Blue Cross/Blue Shield work insurance can replace a Medicare Part D prescription plan?

Expert Answers

To encourage as many people as possible to sign up for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan when they're first eligible for it (usually at age 65), Medicare imposes a financial penalty on those who don't sign up then. The penalty is a one percent per month increase in premiums for every month you delay in signing up.

But this penalty does not apply if you have employer- or union-sponsored health insurance that provides what Medicare considers to be "creditable prescription drug coverage," which means it covers prescription drugs as extensively as a basic Part D plan does. To find out if your Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance qualifies as creditable prescription drug coverage, contact both the benefits office where you work and the Blue Cross/Blue Shield administrative office for your particular health plan. Don't rely on someone telling you on the phone that your plan does or doesn't qualify. Get it in writing from both your employment benefits office and from Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Even if your current plan provides enough drug coverage to qualify as creditable prescription drug coverage, you may also want to consider adding a Medicare Part D plan if your current insurance leaves you with high out-of-pocket prescription drug costs. You may be able to find a Medicare Part D plan with a low monthly premium that picks up a large portion of these drug costs. To see how to shop for a Medicare Part D plan, take a look at this web site's articles Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plans): A Beginner's Guide and Choosing a Medicare Part D Drug Plan. You can also visit Medicare's web site and look at its information about Part D plans available where you live.