Medicare Part D - Comparing drug plans

In 2015, there were just over 1,000 different Medicare Part D prescription drug plan options offered nationwide, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). Most regions have about 30 different plans available.

With so many options, it is important to compare plans and find one that works for your coverage needs and budget.

Our plan comparison tool can help you compare plans available in your area. You also can call 1-855-916-8855 to compare plans over the phone with the help of a licensed agent.

You should make sure to compare the following 3 factors when choosing your Part D plan:

  • Benefits
  • Costs
  • Star ratings

You should try to enroll in a Part D plan when you are first eligible to do so. If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you may face a late enrollment penalty.

Compare benefits

Each Part D plan has a different range of benefits. Before enrolling in a Part D plan, you should request the plan’s current formulary (drug list), coverage rules, and network pharmacies.

Formulary and tiers

Each Part D plan covers different prescription drugs, which will all be listed on the plan’s formulary. You should find a plan that covers your prescribed medications. You may have to pay out-of-pocket for prescriptions that are not on a plan’s approved drug list.

You also should review the Part D plan’s tiers. Different plans may place the same drug in different tiers, which will affect your out-of-pocket costs. For example, one plan may put a certain brand-name drug in Tier 1, but another plan may put the same brand name drug in Tier 2, which could require a higher co-payment.

Coverage rules

Part D plans also have varying coverage rules that can affect your access to certain prescriptions. You should review the rules for quantity limits, prior authorization, and step therapy before enrolling in a plan.

Network pharmacies

Some Part D plans have contracts with pharmacies. If you visit in-network pharmacies, your prescription drug costs may be lower. If you fill a prescription at a non-network pharmacy, your plan may charge you more or not cover your medication costs at all.

Check to see if your preferred pharmacy is in your plan’s network.

More info: Part D benefits

Compare costs

Part D plan costs vary widely depending on plan premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

It is important to find a plan that fits your coverage needs and covers all of your prescription drugs before comparing plan premiums. If you enroll in a plan that does not cover all of your medications, you may be forced to pay out-of-pocket for these drugs.

In addition to plan premiums, you should compare other Part D plan out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, co-insurance, and co-payments, which may be different for each plan.

Our online plan comparison tool will show you both the monthly premiums and total estimated costs for plans in your area.

More info: Part D costs - premiums, deductibles, and the donut hole

Compare star ratings

Medicare assigns star ratings to every available Medicare Part D plan. Part D plan star ratings give you an idea of the plan’s quality and performance. Ratings are assigned by Medicare and are based on "information from member satisfaction surveys, plans, and health care providers," according to Medicare.gov.

Ratings range from 1 star (poor performance) to 5 stars (excellent performance).

Our online plan comparison tool will show you Medicare star ratings for some of the Part D plans available in your area.