The basics: Medicare provides an optional prescription drug benefit, Medicare Part D. All persons who qualify for Medicare are eligible to apply for Part D, regardless of income or resources, health status, or current prescription expenses. Medicare administers the Part D program, but contracts with private medical insurance companies who then market their own prescription drug plans to the public. Most insurance companies provide several Part D drug plan options with differing premiums, deductibles and coverage.

Once enrolled in a drug plan, you will receive a membership card which you present at your pharmacy whenever you fill a prescription. The pharmacy will charge you a pre-determined co-payment and will then bill your Part D insurance provider for the remaining cost.