Table of Contents

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Prescription Drugs Costs?

Are you wondering if Medicare Advantage plans cover prescription drugs? You’ve come to the right place. Medicare Advantage plans ideally save you money on your medications and reduce out-of-pocket costs by covering various drug types.

Prescription drug coverage is crucial for adults aged 65 and above, with 90% of older adults regularly taking at least one prescription drug and 80% taking at least two, as reported. A good drug plan can significantly reduce the cost of the medications necessary to maintain good health and well-being.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug coverage, so you can make an informed decision about your healthcare options.

Understanding Medicare Advantage Plans

What is Medicare Advantage?

Medicare Advantage (also called Medicare Part C) is an alternative to traditional Medicare offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide the same coverage as Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). Still, they may also offer additional benefits such as prescription drug coverage and vision, dental, and hearing services.

How does Medicare Advantage work?

Medicare Advantage plans work by providing beneficiaries with their healthcare coverage through a private insurance company. Medicare provides a predetermined amount of funding to the insurance company for this purpose. These plans often come with provider networks, which may necessitate beneficiaries to consult doctors and specialists within the network to receive complete coverage. Moreover, some plans may need beneficiaries to obtain prior authorization before specific services are covered.

Types of Medicare Advantage plans

There are several types of Medicare Advantage plans, including:

  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
  • Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs)
  • Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) plans
  • Special Needs Plans (SNPs).

HMOs require beneficiaries to choose a primary care physician and typically require referrals to see specialists. PPOs allow beneficiaries to see providers outside the network but may require higher out-of-pocket costs. PFFS plans allow beneficiaries to see any provider who agrees to accept the plan’s payment terms. SNPs provide specialized care for beneficiaries with certain health conditions, such as diabetes or cancer.

Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Coverage

A Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plan is a type of Medicare Advantage plan that combines medical and prescription drug coverage. This plan includes Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage as part of its benefits. MAPD is offered through private insurance companies approved by Medicare and may have different prescription drug tiers and formularies depending on the plan.

What is Medicare Part D?

Medicare Part D is a prescription drug plan available to Medicare beneficiaries. It is an optional program that provides coverage for prescription drugs that are typically not covered under Original Medicare. 

Medicare Part D is offered through private insurance companies approved by Medicare and has different formularies and cost-sharing arrangements depending on the plan. Beneficiaries can enroll in a Medicare Part D plan during their initial enrollment period, annual open enrollment period, or special enrollment periods.

How does Medicare Advantage cover prescription drugs?

Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans are required to cover a wide variety of prescription drugs commonly used by Medicare beneficiaries.

The coverage may include different prescription drug tiers and formularies depending on the plan. The tiers and formulary show you:

Prescription drug tiers:

  • Most health insurance plans use a tiered system to classify drugs, with each tier having a different cost-sharing arrangement between the insurer and the insured.
  • Tier 1 drugs are usually the least expensive and include generic drugs.
  • Tier 2 drugs are also generic, but they may be newer or cost more than tier 1 drugs.
  • Tier 3 drugs are usually brand-name medications that have a generic equivalent, but they may have a higher cost than tier 1 or 2 drugs.
  • Tier 4 drugs are the most expensive and include brand-name drugs that may have no generic equivalent or are considered non-preferred.


  • Formularies are lists of medications that a health plan covers and are usually organized by drug tier.
  • Health plans use formularies to help manage costs by promoting the use of lower-cost medications and restricting coverage of higher-cost medications.
  • It’s essential to regularly check if a medication is still covered and at what tier placed because formularies can change throughout the year.

The formulary of a plan covers both generic and brand-name medications, with at least two or more of the most commonly prescribed drugs for each class and category, making it simpler for you to obtain the prescription drugs you require. If your Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plan’s formulary doesn’t have the specific medication you need, a comparable one may be available. If none of the covered drugs fulfill your medical needs, you can request an exception.

Prescription drug coverage limits

Here are some key things to know about prescription drug coverage limits:

  • Quantity limits: These are limits on the number of pills or refills that you can receive for a particular medication. These limits are often based on the drug’s recommended dosage or on safety concerns related to the drug’s use.
  • Prior authorization: This is a requirement that your doctor must obtain approval from your insurance provider before prescribing a certain medication. Insurance companies use prior authorization to ensure the medication is medically necessary and cost-effective.
  • Step therapy: This is a process where your insurance provider requires you to try a less expensive or safer medication before they cover the cost of a more expensive or risky one. This can be frustrating for patients who may not respond well to the initial medication or who have already tried it without success.
  • Exceptions: Insurance providers may make exceptions to coverage limits for certain medical conditions or situations. For example, they may waive quantity limits for cancer patients who require high doses of medication.

Wesley Evans

Medicare Advantage Plan Costs

Medicare Advantage plans are a popular alternative to Original Medicare, as they often offer additional benefits and more predictable out-of-pocket costs. However, it is important to understand the various costs associated with these plans before enrolling.

  • Monthly Premiums: Most Medicare Advantage plans have a monthly premium, which is an amount you pay each month to maintain your coverage. The premium amount can vary depending on the plan, and some plans may have a $0 premium option.
  • Deductibles: A deductible is an out-of-pocket amount before your plan begins to cover costs. Some Medicare Advantage plans have deductibles, while others do not.
  • Copayments and Coinsurance: Copayments and coinsurance are the amounts you pay for covered services after you have met your deductible. Copayments are a fixed amount, while coinsurance is a percentage of the total cost of the service. These costs can vary depending on the specific plan and the service provided.
  • Coverage Gap (Donut Hole): If your Medicare Advantage plan includes prescription drug coverage, you may encounter a coverage gap, also known as the donut hole. This occurs when you have reached a certain limit in drug costs, and then you are responsible for a higher percentage of the cost of your medications until you reach another limit.
  • Catastrophic Coverage: Once you have reached the limit for the coverage gap, you may be eligible for catastrophic coverage. This means that your plan will cover a higher percentage of your drug costs for the remainder of the year.

Benefits of Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Coverage

Private insurance companies approved by Medicare offer benefits of the Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Coverage MAPD plan, combining the benefits of Parts A, B, and D into a single plan.

Here are some benefits of enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan:

1. Comprehensive Coverage

These plans provide coverage for a broad range of prescription drugs, including most medications in protected drug classes, such as those used to treat cancer, depression, and HIV/AIDS. This means you don’t have to worry about paying for your medications out of pocket.

2. Potential Cost Savings

Another benefit of MAPD plans is potential cost savings. Medicare Advantage plans negotiate prices with drug manufacturers and pharmacies, which can lead to lower costs for prescription drugs. In addition, many MAPD plans have lower copayments and deductibles than original Medicare plans, which can result in significant savings over time.

3. Convenience of One Plan for Healthcare Needs:

Having all your healthcare needs under one plan is another benefit of MAPD plans. You don’t have to worry about keeping track of multiple insurance cards or remembering which plan covers which services. With an MAPD plan, all your healthcare needs are covered under one plan, making it easier to manage your healthcare and medications.

4. Flexibility to Switch Plans

Finally, MAPD plans offer flexibility to switch plans. If you’re not satisfied with your current plan or your healthcare needs change, you can switch to a different MAPD plan during the annual enrollment period. This allows you to choose a plan that better meets your healthcare and prescription drug needs.

Choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan with Prescription Drug Coverage

When it comes to choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage, there are a few factors to consider. One important factor is the formulary, which is a list of covered drugs. It’s important to ensure the plan covers the medications you need. Other factors to consider include the plan’s premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.

To help you choose the best plan for your needs, there are plan comparison tools available online. These tools allow you to compare plans side-by-side and see the costs and coverage details. You can also call Medicare or visit their website for a plan comparison tool or use my Medicare Plan Finder tool

Once you’ve decided on a plan, you can enroll during the enrollment period. The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) takes place from October 15 to December 7 each year. You can also enroll in a plan during the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which is the seven-month period that starts three months before your 65th birthday.

Suppose you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan with prescription drug coverage but want to switch to a different plan. In that case, you can do so during the AEP or during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). You may qualify for a SEP if you move to a new area or experience a life-changing event, such as losing your current coverage.

If you need any assistance or have any questions regarding Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage, please don’t hesitate to contact me or schedule an appointment. I’ll be happy to help you navigate your options and find the plan that best fits your healthcare needs. Get started today!

Frequently Asked Questions

A person can have a separate Medicare Part D plan if their Medicare Advantage plan does not include prescription drug coverage. If a person enrolls into a MAPD that has prescription drug coverage included in the plan, then the individual can not have a separate Part D plan as well.

You can enroll in an MAPD plan during multiple enrollment periods that occur throughout the year. If you live in Southern California, you can connect with me here, and I’ll be able to assist.

Yes, you can switch to a different MAPD plan during the annual enrollment period or during a special enrollment period if you meet certain criteria. It’s important to compare plans and consider factors such as costs, benefits, and provider networks before making a switch.

If you move out of your plan’s service area, you must update your health coverage. Most likely, a move would trigger a Special Enrollment Period in which you may make changes to your existing plan if your current service area and provider network is affected. It’s important to notify your plan as soon as possible if you move to ensure that you continue to receive coverage.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights