Key Takeaways

  • Switching Medicare Part D/Medicare prescription drug plans can be accomplished by joining another drug plan.

  • Most people with Medicare Part D are allowed to switch plans once a year, during the Open Enrollment Period October 15 to December 7.

Medicare Part D (sometimes called Medicare drug plans) is insurance for prescription drugs. You can switch to a new Medicare drug plan by joining another drug plan. Your old Medicare drug plan coverage will end when your new drug plan coverage begins. Most people with Medicare Part D are allowed to switch plans once a year, during the Annual Election/Open Enrollment Period (October 15 – December 7).

A Part D plan can also be added if you are switching from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare during the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP), which runs from January 1 – March 31. The MA OEP does not allow for Part D changes for individuals enrolled in Original Medicare, including those enrolled in stand-alone Part D plans.

If you are receiving Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs, it possible to switch plans as often as once per quarter during the first nine months of the year (January -September).

There are special circumstances for switching plans at other times:

  • A move out of the area the current plan serves
  • Enter, leave, or live in a nursing home
  • Plan changes and no longer serves area;
  • Receiving Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs.

Changing Drug Plan Formularies Mid-Year

Part D plans sometimes change their formularies (drug lists) during the course of the year. This happens because new drugs come on or are taken off the market, generic versions of a brand name drug become available or there are new clinical guidelines about the use of a medication. Part D plans are required to provide 60 days’ notice to all plan members about a formulary change before it happens.