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Getting Prepared

Joining a Medicare plan that covers prescription drugs is voluntary. If you want coverage, you must choose to join a plan to receive it. Open enrollment is November 15 - December 31 every year with your prescription drug coverage starting on January 1. If you choose not to join when you are first eligible and later change your mind, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.

What can you do right now to make an informed decision about Medicare prescription drug coverage?

  • Gather... information about your current coverage for healthcare and prescription drugs. Make sure you know what coverage you have now.

    Gather information about the drugs you use, including names and  dosages. Think about other things that matter to you about coverage, like whether you want more protection if your drug needs change, or whether you want coverage that has a lower premium. This will help you compare plans later.

    Acrobat Icon Download Part D Plan comparison worksheet
  • Remember... the key Medicare dates:
  • October 2009 -Watch for the Medicare & You handbook in your mail. Look for community events throughout the fall
  • November 15, 2009 - Open enrollment begins
  • December 31, 2009 - Last day to join a 2010 plan
  • January 1, 2010- Coverage begins for those who join by December 31, 2009
  • Apply... for extra help if you think you might qualify. Apply online
  • Watch... for the Medicare & You handbook arriving in your mail in October. Read it carefully and talk about this coverage with people you know and trust.

Need more information? Help is available

Medicare works with organizations at the local level to help you understand the new prescription drug coverage and the various plan options available in your community. Need extra help?

You can get personalized counseling by calling your State Health Insurance Assistance Program or local office on aging. For the telephone number of your local office on aging, visit

Remember: You must sign up for coverage to begin. Once you feel comfortable that you have all the information you need to make a decision, it’s time to act. You enroll as early as November 15 for coverage beginning January 1. Sign up by December 31 and you won’t miss a day of coverage. Got a question? Need someone to walk you through it? Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048 any time day or night. Or visit on the web.

Part D IntroductionTop 10 HighlightsIs Part D For YouHow Standard Part D WorksLow Income Explanation and ExamplesWhat's in a Formulary ExplanationCurrent CoverageGetting PreparedFrequently Asked QuestionsResources and Worksheets
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