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The Premium Penalty - The High Cost of Waiting

If time is money, then "Procrastination" also has a price. It now seems that even doing nothing may have a high cost when it comes to the Medicare Part D program.

The first Medicare Part D Open Enrollment period began November 15, 2005 and ended May 15, 2006. For those missing the May 15 deadline, the total increase for 2006 was an automatic 7% (representing the delay from May to December 2006). This percentage is then multiplied by the average premium cost for Medicare Part D plans (in 2006, this value is around $32.50). Some have called this cost increase a "life-time premium penalty" because anyone who incurs the premium penalty must pay the penalty each month for a long as they are enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan.

How does the work? Well, if this year's average monthly premium for a Medicare Part D plans is $32.50 per month, a person who waited 7 months to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan would add an extra $2.25 per month to their monthly premium (calculated - 1.07 * $32.20 = $34.45 or an additional $27.00 per year). The premium "penalty" will stay in effect for the life of the Beneficiary's Medicare Part D plan and may even increase over time (although in 2007 the average value of a plan will be reduced to $27.35).


Please note, that these penalties or additional costs may not apply if you currently have drug coverage through a former employer or union considered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as "creditable coverage". Also, anyone who qualifies for the "Extra Help" program will not be charged a Late Enrollment Penalty.

:: Click Here to Read Why the Premium Penalty is about more than Just Monthly Cost
:: Learn more about the "Extra Help" program
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Example for Plan Year 2015:

For plan year 2015, the Late Enrollment Premium Penalty is $0.33 for each month that you were not enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan, but were eligible for Medicare Part D.

For our example, let’s say you had Part D coverage starting when you were initially eligible through 2010 and then decided that you did not need coverage starting January 1, 2012 so you dropped your Medicare Part D coverage. Your situation changed at the end of 2012 and you chose to enroll in a Part D plan for 2013, your monthly premium penalty would be $3.96 or 12 x $0.33.

Your Part D plan premium would be the regular plan premium plus an additional $3.96 each month.
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Tips & Disclaimers
  • The Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan data on our site comes directly from Medicare and is subject to change.
  • Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed the information on our site.
  • We provide our Q1Medicare.com site for educational purposes and strive to present unbiased and accurate information. However, Q1Medicare is not intended as a substitute for your lawyer, doctor, healthcare provider, financial advisor, or pharmacist. For more information on your Medicare coverage, please be sure to seek legal, medical, pharmaceutical, or financial advice from a licensed professional or telephone Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.
  • Benefits, formulary, pharmacy network, provider network, premium and/or co-payments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year. Our PDP-Compare.com and MA-Compare.com provide highlights of annual plan benefit changes.
  • The benefit information provided is a brief summary, not a complete description of benefits. For more information contact the plan.
  • Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply.
  • We make every effort to show all available Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plans in your service area. However, since our data is provided by Medicare, it is possible that this may not be a complete listing of plans available in your service area. For a complete listing please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.
  • When enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.
  • Medicare beneficiaries with higher incomes may be required to pay both a Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA). Read more on IRMAA.
  • Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage (MAPDs) are considered Medicare Part D plans and members with higher incomes may be subject to the Medicare Part D Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA), just as members in stand-alone Part D plans. In certain situations, you can appeal IRMAA.
  • You must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Members may enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan only during specific times of the year. Contact the Medicare plan for more information.
  • If you are enrolled in a Medicare plan with Part D prescription drug coverage, you may be eligible for financial Extra Help to assist with the payment of your prescription drug premiums and drug purchases. To see if you qualify for Extra Help, call: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov; the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. TTY users should call, 1-800-325-0778; or your state Medicaid Office.
  • Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-Star rating system. Star Ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next.
  • A Medicare Advantage Private Fee-for-Service plan (PFFS) is not a Medicare supplement plan. Providers who do not contract with the plan are not required to see you except in an emergency.
  • Disclaimer for Institutional Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who meets the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) level of care and resides in a nursing home.
  • Disclaimer for Dual Eligible (Medicare/Medicaid) Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone who has both Medical Assistance from the State and Medicare. Premiums, co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles may vary based on the level of Extra Help you receive. Please contact the plan for further details.
  • Disclaimer for Chronic Condition Special Needs Plan (SNP): This plan is available to anyone with Medicare who has been diagnosed with the plan specific Chronic Condition.
  • Medicare MSA Plans combine a high deductible Medicare Advantage Plan and a trust or custodial savings account (as defined and/or approved by the IRS). The plan deposits money from Medicare into the account. You can use this money to pay for your health care costs, but only Medicare-covered expenses count toward your deductible. The amount deposited is usually less than your deductible amount, so you generally have to pay out-of-pocket before your coverage begins.
  • Medicare MSA Plans do not cover prescription drugs. If you join a Medicare MSA Plan, you can also join any separate (stand-alone) Medicare Part D prescription drug plan
  • There are additional restrictions to join an MSA plan, and enrollment is generally for a full calendar year unless you meet certain exceptions. Those who disenroll during the calendar year will owe a portion of the account deposit back to the plan. Contact the plan provider for additional information.
  • Medicare beneficiaries may enroll through the CMS Medicare Online Enrollment Center located at www.medicare.gov.
  • Medicare beneficiaries can file a complaint with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by calling 1-800-MEDICARE 24 hours a day/7 days or using the medicare.gov site. Beneficiaries can appoint a representative by submitting CMS Form-1696.


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