Comparing Medicare Part D Plans for 2023

The best Medicare Part D prescription drug plans depend on what medications you take and where you live. There are hundreds of plans, but not all plans are available in all states or cities. Carefully comparing Medicare Part D plans that are available can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

  • Written by
    Lindsey Crossmier

    Lindsey Crossmier

    Financial Writer

    Lindsey Crossmier is an accomplished writer with experience working for The Florida Review and Bookstar PR. As a financial writer, she covers Medicare, life insurance and dental insurance topics for RetireGuide. Research-based data drives her work.

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  • Edited By
    Lamia Chowdhury
    Lamia Chowdhury, editor for RetireGuide.com

    Lamia Chowdhury

    Financial Editor

    Lamia Chowdhury is a financial content editor for RetireGuide and has over three years of marketing experience in the finance industry. She has written copy for both digital and print pieces ranging from blogs, radio scripts and search ads to billboards, brochures, mailers and more.

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  • Reviewed By
    Christian Worstell
    Christian Worstell, Medicare expert

    Christian Worstell

    Medicare Expert

    Christian Worstell is a licensed health insurance agent and an established writer in the sector, with articles featured in Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and more. His work has positively impacted beneficiaries nationwide and empowers them to make strong health care decisions.

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  • Published: March 29, 2022
  • Updated: October 24, 2023
  • 12 min read time
  • This page features 5 Cited Research Articles
Fact Checked
Fact Checked

A licensed insurance professional reviewed this page for accuracy and compliance with the CMS Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMGs) and Medicare Advantage (MA/MAPD) and/or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) carriers’ guidelines.

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How to Cite RetireGuide.com's Article

APA Crossmier, L. (2023, October 24). Comparing Medicare Part D Plans for 2023. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/part-d/compare-plans/

MLA Crossmier, Lindsey. "Comparing Medicare Part D Plans for 2023." RetireGuide.com, 24 Oct 2023, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/part-d/compare-plans/.

Chicago Crossmier, Lindsey. "Comparing Medicare Part D Plans for 2023." RetireGuide.com. Last modified October 24, 2023. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/part-d/compare-plans/.

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Key Takeaways
  • The state you live in and the drugs you need covered will affect the costs and which Part D plan will be best for you.
  • There will be 709 total Medicare Part D stand-alone drug plans in 2023, which is an 11% decrease from plans available in 2022.
  • Medicare Part D plans typically have five tiers of coverage, with your share of the cost lowest when you use the preferred drugs in the plan’s formulary.
  • Finding a Part D plan that covers as many of your medications and leaves you with the least cost sharing could save you money.

Comparing Part D Plans from Popular Providers

In 2023, 82% of Part D Stand-Alone Prescription Drug Plans are projected to operate from four popular insurers — United Health, Humana, Centene and CVS Health. Knowing average premiums from popular Part D companies can help you understand costs and which could be best for you.

Insurer2023 Part D Plans Offered by Insurer With Average Monthly Premium Price
CVS Health (Aetna)
  • SilverScript SmartSaver: $6
  • SilverScript Choice: $33
  • SilverScript Plus: $75
Humana
  • Humana Basic RX Plan: $40
  • Humana Premier Rx Plan: $83
Centene
  • Wellcare Value Script: $10
  • Wellcare Classic: $32
  • Wellcare Medicare Rx Value Plus: $71
United Health
  • AARP MedicareRx Walgreens: $30
  • AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus: $41
  • AARP MedicareRx Preferred: $111

What state you live in and drugs you need covered will affect the costs and which Part D plan will be best for you in 2023. When using Medicare’s plan finding tool, you should always input your prescription drugs and pharmacies to see the estimated costs.

For example, let’s say you take acebutolol, which is a common type of heart medication. If you need a 60-day supply of 200 mg acebutolol capsules, your costs vary depending on which Part D plan you choose. Below are different costs from the four most popular insurers of 2023. The costs are set for those looking for acebutolol coverage in Fort Bend, Texas.

Comparing Costs of Heart Medicine With Popular Insurers
AARP MedicareRx Walgreens
$87.19 for a monthly supply with a $350 drug deductible
Humana Walmart Value Rx Plan
$20 for a monthly supply with a $505 deductible
Wellcare Value Script
$63.80 for a monthly supply with a $505 deductible
SilverScript Choice
$67.88 for a monthly supply with a $505 deductible
“Between premiums, benefit limits and which drugs are covered, there’s a lot to consider when comparing Medicare Part D plans. And with potentially dozens of available plans at your disposal, knowing what to look for in a plan can go a long way toward landing on the best coverage for your needs.”

Comparing Part D Plans: 2022 vs. 2023

There will be 801 total Medicare Part D stand-alone drug plans in 2023, which is a 5% increase from plans available in 2022.

Access to the Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) program, also known as Extra Help, is slightly less accessible in 2023. There will be 191 Part D stand-alone drug plans that qualify for the LIS program in 2023, which is a 4% reduction compared to plans available in 2022. The LIS Program covers premiums and other out-of-pocket costs for Part D beneficiaries.

One of the biggest changes for Part D beneficiaries is the new cost cap for injectable insulin. Starting Jan. 1, 2023, injectable insulin will be capped at a $35 copay each month. The Part D deductible will also no longer apply for insulin products, according to the U.S. Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services.

There will also be no cost-sharing for adult vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) which are covered under Part D.

Cost Changes for Part D Plans
Part D Plan Features20222023
Base Beneficiary Premium$33.74$34.70
Standard Deductible$480$545
Initial Coverage Limit $4,430$4,660
Out-of-Pocket Spending Threshold$7,050$7,400

Be aware of a new benefit that was announced to cut costs in the future. Starting in 2025, your amount spent on prescriptions with Part D will be capped at $2,000 a year. According to AARP, this will be the first time there has ever been a cap on prescription drugs.

Best 2023 Medicare Part D Plans by Cost

Finding the best price on a Medicare Part D plan requires you to compare the plans that are available where you live. You’ll have to consider four factors that will affect the cost of different Part D plans.

4 Things That Determine the Price of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans
  • The state, county and zip code of your primary residence.
  • The exact name of the prescription drugs you take.
  • The dosage of each prescription drug you take.
  • Whether the drug comes in a capsule, tablet, cream, injectable form or some other type.

All these factors not only determine the cost of your monthly premium payments for a Part D plan, but they will also determine how much you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for your medications.

Average Costs Associated With Stand-Alone Medicare Part D Drug Plans, 2023
  • Monthly premium — $43 (range from $6 to $111 per month)
  • Deductible — $545

If your costs are above the average monthly premium listed, you may want to continue shopping around to find a better deal.

Applying for Part D can be a lengthy and complicated process, but remain patient and continue comparing plans to ensure you’re getting the best cost for your unique coverage needs.

If you have concerns about covering Part D plan costs, you can always see if you’re eligible for the Part D Low-Income Subsidy program, which is also known as Extra Help.

Highest and Lowest Monthly Premiums for National Part D Drug Plans in 2023

The highest average monthly premium for a Part D plan in 2023 is $111 from AARP MedicareRx Preferred. The lowest average monthly premium for a Part D plan is $6 from SilverScript SmartSaver.

The number of companies offering stand-alone Part D plans has been declining in recent years as drug coverage has been increasing through Medicare Advantage plans. Only 15 national firms offer stand-alone plans in 2023, which is the lowest number since Part D started.

Lowest Average 2023 Premiums
CompanyPremium
SilverScript SmartRx$6
Wellcare Value Script$10
Cigna Saver Rx $13
AARP MedicareRx Walgreens $30
Wellcare Classic$32
Humana Walmart Value Rx Plan$33
Cigna Secure Rx$33
SilverScript Choice$33
Humana Basic Rx Plan $40
AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus $41
National PDP Average$43
Highest Average 2023 Premiums
CompanyPremium
AARP MedicareRx Preferred$111
Humana Premier Rx Plan$83
SilverScript Plus $75
Wellcare Medicare Rx Value Plus$71
Cigna Extra Rx$63
Elixir RxSecure$46

Average Cost Sharing for Medicare Part D Drug Plans in 2023

Similar to costs in 2022, you will continue to pay a much larger share of the costs of name brand and non-preferred drugs under national Medicare Part D drug plans in 2023. Non-preferred drugs can be both name-brand medications as well as generics.

Medicare Part D plans typically have five tiers of coverage, with your share of the cost lowest when you use the preferred drugs in the plan’s formulary. Preferred generics, generics and preferred brands typically have a dollar amount copay. Non-preferred and specialty drugs usually require you to pay a percentage of the drug’s cost as coinsurance.

Average Cost Sharing Amounts for Medicare Part D Coverage in 2023
Drug TierLow End Average ShareHigh End
Preferred generics$0$1$7
Generics$0$5$15
Preferred brands$25$44$47
Non-preferred drugs34%45%50%
Specialty drugs25%25%33%

Medicare Part D Plans Without Donut Holes

All Medicare Part D plans are subject to the donut hole. But avoiding the donut hole — or Medicare Part D coverage gap — requires you to keep a watchful eye on how much you and your Medicare Part D plan are spending on prescription drugs.

You’ll also want to compare plans yearly before open enrollment — October 14 to December 7 each year — in case you need to move to a more cost-effective plan.

Once you and your plan spend a combined total of $4,430 on drugs in 2022, you enter what is known as the “donut hole.” It’s also called the Medicare Part D coverage gap.

Once you enter this donut hole, you are responsible for paying 25% of the costs for your medications.

You are responsible for this share of your medications until you hit the catastrophic coverage threshold — $7,050 out-of-pocket in 2022. Once you pay that much yourself, you only pay a 5% for the cost of your medications or $3.95 for generics and $9.85 for brand name drugs — whichever is greater.

Did You Know?
Starting in 2024, there will no longer be a 5% coinsurance requirement if your drug costs exceed the catastrophic coverage threshold.
Source: AARP

Prior to Jan. 1 2020, when Congress closed the donut hole, you had to pay 100% of your medication’s cost.

5 Tips To Choose the Best Medicare Part D Plan

A Medicare Part D drug plan should match your specific prescription drug needs. Taking the time to compare all the plans available in your area can save you hundreds of dollars.

Following the five tips below can help you choose a Medicare Part D plan that fits your needs.

Step 1: Ask Questions

You’ll need to know what drugs are covered, what pharmacies are in a plan’s network and a lot more information to make sure you’re getting the best plan for your needs.

Questions To Ask When Shopping for a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
  • Does this plan cover your particular medications?
  • Are the drugs covered specifically for your condition?
  • Does the plan place any restrictions on your covered drugs?
  • How much are the monthly premiums?
  • How much is the yearly deductible?
  • How much is your share of the cost for each drug?
  • If my drug isn’t covered, is there an alternative that is? (Ask the plan administrator and your doctor)
  • Is your pharmacy in the plan’s network?
  • Will the plan affect any other drug coverage you may have?
Source: National Council on Aging

Step 2: Include All Your Drugs When Comparing Plans

When comparing plans, make sure you list all your medications. Leaving off just one medication can cost you hundreds of dollars.

You’ll need to include the dosage of each medication, how many you take and how often you take each. You’ll want to find a Part D plan that covers as many of your medications and leaves you with the least cost sharing.

Step 3: Know Which Pharmacies the Plan Prefers Near You

Medicare Part D plans have preferred pharmacies. If you go to a pharmacy not on the plan’s list, you’ll have to pay more. If you have a favorite pharmacy, ask the pharmacist which plans have it on their preferred list.

You can also compare the plan’s price at your usual pharmacy to four other pharmacies in your area. Look for the lowest cost for both your premium and for your medications.

Step 4: Shop Early

It can take a while to find the best Medicare Part D plan for you. There’s only a short window of time when you can join a plan or switch to a better one. So, it pays to do your work early.

Also, be aware of late enrollment penalties. If you don’t sign up for a prescription drug plan when you’re first eligible, you might have to pay a penalty when you finally do enroll. The penalty gets bigger each month you go without coverage and is added to your plan’s monthly cost when you finally do enroll in a Part D plan.

Step 5: Check Your Eligibility for Assistance Programs

You may qualify for the Extra Help program if your annual income is limited to $20,385 for an individual or $27,465 for a married couple living together in 2022.

You can also contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) toll free at 1-877-839-2675 or Medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227.

Comparing Medicare Part D Plans FAQs

Are All Medicare Part D Plans the Same?
There are more than 700 Medicare Part D prescription drug plans in the United States. All Part D plans must offer a standard level of coverage set by Medicare, but each plan varies in different combinations of what it covers and how much your out-of-pocket costs may be. Plans may also differ in which drugs they cover, what pharmacies you have to use when buying your medications and how much you have to pay for them.
Do Medicare Part D plans vary by state?
Medicare Part D plans — and all other Medicare plans sold by private insurers — vary by state. States with larger populations tend to have more Medicare Part D plans to choose from than states with smaller populations. Not all Medicare Part D plans available in your state may be available exactly where you live. Your county and zip code may also affect the number of plans available to you.
Is GoodRx a good alternative to Medicare Part D?
If Medicare doesn’t cover your medication, GoodRX is a good alternative to help you cover out-of-pocket costs. But remember, you can only use one or the other — not both.

Editor Samantha Connell contributed to this article.

Last Modified: October 24, 2023

5 Cited Research Articles

  1. Medicare Rights Center. (2023). Extra Help Program Income and Asset Limits 2023. Retrieved from https://www.medicarerights.org/fliers/Help-With-Drug-Costs/Extra-Help-Chart.pdf
  2. Cubanski, J, & Damico A. (2022, November 10). Medicare Part D: A First Look at Medicare Drug Plans in 2023. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-part-d-a-first-look-at-medicare-drug-plans-in-2023/
  3. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022, October 5). Reduced Drug Prices, Enhanced Medicare Benefits Under the Inflation Reduction Act Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/files/document/10522-external-faqs-about-inflation-reduction-act.pdf
  4. Bunis, D. (2022, August 15). Big Changes Coming to Medicare Part D Plans. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2022/medicare-part-d-changes.html
  5. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022). 5 Ways To Get Help With Prescription Costs. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/drug-coverage-part-d/costs-for-medicare-drug-coverage/costs-in-the-coverage-gap/5-ways-to-get-help-with-prescription-costs