Medicare Minimum Standards: What You Need to Know About Prescription Drug Coverage TopicsPopular TopicsMost Recent Medicare Working Past 65 Lifestyle & Wellness Considering Retirement Existing Clients Employer Monthly Webinars As you plan to transition to Medicare, it’s important to know your options when it comes to prescription drug coverage. To ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries are covered equally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sets minimum standards for drug plans. But what are minimum standards, and how will they affect you as you prepare for Medicare? Minimum Standards Medicare sets minimum standards for prescription drug coverage. These standards give a baseline for coverage that all Medicare plans (including Medicare Advantage, Medigap/Supplement, and prescription drug plans) must meet or exceed. Benefits provided through a union or employer may also stand in for Medicare plans, as long as they meet Medicare’s minimum standards. Basically, other benefits must be similar enough to Medicare to be considered a good alternative. This is called creditable coverage. Creditable Coverage For a private insurance plan to give creditable coverage, it must pay at least as much as Medicare’s minimum standard. Creditable coverage may be offered through: An employer or union Military service, including Tricare or Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs (SPAPs) If you have creditable drug coverage through any of the sources above, you can keep it when you enroll in Medicare. You should receive a Notice of Creditable Coverage in the mail confirming this. Even with creditable drug coverage, your steps to prepare for Medicare can vary based on your retirement plans. Planning for Medicare? Here’s What to Do You Plan to Retire at or Before 65 Verify what benefits will carry over once your working status changes. If you qualify for prescription drug coverage, you will receive a notice in the mail. Do not let your coverage lapse—then you may have to pay the Part D late enrollment penalty. This will make your Medicare permanently cost more. If you need coverage in the time between your retirement date and your Medicare eligibility, you can enroll in an individual plan through the Marketplace. You Plan to Work Past Age 65 If your employer has 20 or fewer employees, you are required to enroll in Medicare when you become eligible. You have options if you work for a larger organization. Typically, Medicare is more cost-effective than your employer coverage. You can enroll in Medicare without retiring. As you plan to enroll in Medicare, check about creditable coverage through your employer. How does your retiree coverage compare to a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) or standalone prescription drug plan? Do you have the option to pair your employer benefits and Medicare? Our advisors can help you answer all of these questions. Contact our local experts for a no-cost benefits review. We’ll make sure you understand your options and feel confident in your health plan decision. The Bottom Line As you plan to enroll in Medicare, you can keep your creditable prescription drug coverage through your employer. If you do not have creditable coverage, you will need to enroll in a Medicare drug plan. Once you are eligible for Medicare, don’t let your prescription drug coverage lapse. Doing so could subject you to a late enrollment penalty. We recommend contacting our local team for advice on your specific situation. We’ll get to know your needs and help you plan your next steps, all at no cost to you. You can reach us at 1-866-407-5180 or use this form to schedule a call. Stay informed about Medicare An easy way to stay updated on Medicare and any important changes is to sign up for the free, customizable RetireMEDiQ newsletter. 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