When you first become eligible to join Medicare, you will have an option to purchase a Medicare drug plan. You can either purchase a Medicare Part D plan that is a supplemental policy to your Medicare Part A&B, or you can purchase Medicare Advantage (Part C) to obtain drug coverage. This is the only way that you are eligible for medication coverage through Medicare.
You may apply for drug coverage during your initial enrollment period, which is 3 months before you turn 65, the month of your birth date and 3 months after your birth date. You may also enroll in a Medicare drug plan during open enrollment each year. Open enrollment generally runs from mid-November until December 31. If you apply for a drug plan during any other time period you may be required to pay a penalty for late enrollment. There are exceptions to this rule. If you move out of your coverage area before open enrollment is offered, you will be able to change plans without penalty. Also, if you qualify for the Extra Help program or loose drug coverage from a work or union plan, you can enroll in Part D without penalty.
Premiums for your drug coverage may be paid either directly each month to the insurer, or through direct withdrawal from your Social Security check. If you want your premiums directly deducted you will need to contact the insurance carrier, not Social Security, to make this arrangement. Starting in 2011, premium rates will change for this type of coverage. Rates will be based on income level, and some people may see an increase in their premiums beginning after January 1. This is part of the new health care regulations that were implemented in 2010.