Medicare Part D enrollment occurs annually from November 15 through December 31. In 2011, the period of enrollment will change to October 15 through December 7. Medicare beneficiaries that are eligible for Part D benefits but fail to enroll during this time will pay a penalty. This is called the Late Enrollment Penalty. The penalty is worth 1% of what the national average premium was at the time. This percentage is then multiplied by the number of months that the enrollment was late. Beneficiaries need to understand that there is a penalty for late enrollment to Medicare Part D.
As of April 2010, there were 27.6 million beneficiaries of the Medicare Part D coverages. Beneficiaries have a variety of plans to choose from; In 2010, the current number of Medicare Part D stand alone prescription plans is 1,576. This number is reduced from the previous year. Seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries have a choice of what plan they choose. It is wise to choose a plan that will meet their unique needs.
Medicare has made it easier for beneficiaries to choose among the many plans. Medicare Plan finder is an online tool that gives a person the ability to compare costs and coverages in a given geographic area of the U.S. This tool also has the capability to allow beneficiaries to enter a list of their medicines and pharmacy preferences. The online tool can then do a thorough comparison of annual prescription drug costs with each plan.
Finally, Medicare and insurance companies have made it a little easier to compare plans. Thus, seniors and others that receive Medicare Part D benefits should start the comparison process early. Failure to sign up for a plan in time can result in a penalty for late enrollment in Medicare Part D.