Best Medicare Part D Plans

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.

Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
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APA Turner, T. (2022, March 31). Best Medicare Part D Plans. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/part-d/compare-plans/

MLA Turner, Terry. "Best Medicare Part D Plans." RetireGuide.com, 31 Mar 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/part-d/compare-plans/.

Chicago Turner, Terry. "Best Medicare Part D Plans." RetireGuide.com. Last modified March 31, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/part-d/compare-plans/.

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Medicare Part D prescription drug plans are sold by private health insurance companies. They can help you cover the costs of your prescription drugs, but you will still have out-of-pocket costs that include copays and deductibles.

Stand-alone Medicare Part D plans can be coupled with Original Medicare to provide drug coverage. Part D plans may also be included as part of a Medicare Advantage Plan.

There are a total of 766 stand-alone Medicare Part D plans available in the United States in 2022, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only a handful of plans are national. Others are more localized. But not all plans are available everywhere. Your options for Medicare Part D plans depend on where you live.

The average person on Medicare will have 54 Medicare plans with Part D drug coverage to choose from in 2022. That includes an average of 23 stand-alone Part D plans and 31 Medicare Advantage plans with Part D coverage.

Best 2022 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 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, 2022
  • Monthly premium — $43 (range from $7 to $99 per month)
  • Deductible — $480

Highest and Lowest Monthly Premiums for National Part D Drug Plans in 2022

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 16 national firms offer stand-alone plans in 2022 — down from a high of 40 companies in 2010.

Highest and Lowest Average Monthly Premiums for National Part D Drug Plans

LOWEST AVERAGE PREMIUMS
COMPANYPREMIUM
SilverScript SmartRx$7
Wellcare Value Script$12
Humana Walmart Value Rx Plan$23
AARP MedicareRX Walgreens$29
Wellcare Classic$30
SilverScript Choice$31
Cigna Secure Rx$34
Humana Basic Rx Plan$34
Elixir RxSecure$34
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
HIGHEST AVERAGE PREMIUMS
COMPANYPREMIUM
AARP MedicareRx Preferred$99
Humana Premier Rx Plan$77
Wellcare Medicare Rx Value Plus$68
SilverScript Plus$68
Cigna Extra Rx$61
AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus$40
Cigna Essential Rx$36
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Average Cost Sharing for Medicare Part D Drug Plans in 2022

You will pay a much larger share of the costs of name brand and non-preferred drugs under national Medicare Part D drug plans in 2022. 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 2022
DRUG TIERHIGH ENDLOW ENDAVERAGE SHARE
Preferred generics$5$0$0
Generics$19$1$5
Preferred brands$47$30$42
Non-preferred drugs50%30%40%
Specialty drugs33%25%25%
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Features of the Top-Rated 2022 Medicare Part D Providers

The top-rated Medicare Part D drug plans share several common features. When comparing plans, you should weigh how these and other components of a Part D plan work for your needs and whether they save you money.

Medicare Part D Drug Plan Features to Consider
Copays and deductibles
Some Medicare Part D plans offer no deductibles or copays as low as $0 to $2 for certain tier drugs in their formularies. These generally apply to generic medications and some of the most commonly prescribed drugs.
Discounts
See if the plan offers additional discounts for other health products or services that would be beneficial to you. You could save money on things you need or are already paying for.
Mail order drug delivery
Some Part D plans offer free delivery for your prescriptions. You will have to use a mail-order pharmacy in the plan’s network.
Medication therapy management (MTM)
If you take multiple prescription drugs, medication therapy management can help you better manage your medications. Some Part D plans offer this service.
Pharmacy networks
Using out-of-network pharmacies can cost you. Small networks may limit where you can buy your prescription drugs. The best plans tend to have large networks — including whole chains such as Walgreens, Walmart and CVS — making it more convenient for you to choose a pharmacy near you.

Remember, not all plans are available everywhere. Compare the plans available in your area to find the one that is both most affordable and features the qualities that best suit your needs.

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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.

Prior to 2019 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.

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.

Medicare Part D Plans FAQs

The most frequently asked questions about Medicare Part D prescription drug plans tend to involve availability, cost and selection.

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.
Does Medicare Part D Have a Maximum Out-of-Pocket?
If you have a Medicare Part D drug plan, there is no limit on the total amount you must pay out-of-pocket for medications each year.

But there is a catastrophic coverage threshold — $7,050 in 2022. Once you’ve paid the threshold amount out-of-pocket, catastrophic coverage kicks in and you only have to pay a small coinsurance amount (typically 5%) or a specific dollar amount copayment for covered drugs for the rest of the year.
Do Medicare Part D Plans Vary by State?
Medicare Part D plans — and all other Medicare plans sold by private insurers — all 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.
Last Modified: March 31, 2022

10 Cited Research Articles

  1. U.S. Social Security Administration. (2022, February). Understanding the Extra Help with Your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Retrieved from https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10508.pdf
  2. Bauer, B. (2021, December 22). How to Avoid the Medicare Part D Donut Hole. Retrieved from https://www.ncoa.org/article/how-to-avoid-the-medicare-part-d-donut-hole
  3. Gill, L.L. (2021, November 5). How to Find the Best Medicare Part D Drug Plan. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/medicare/how-to-find-the-best-medicare-part-d-drug-plan-a6788874634/
  4. Cubanski, J. (2021, November 2). Medicare Part D: A First Look at Medicare Prescription Drug Plans in 2022. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-part-d-a-first-look-at-medicare-prescription-drug-plans-in-2022/
  5. U.S. News & World Report. (2021, October 14). Best Insurance Companies for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans 2022. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/medicare/best-medicare-plans/best-insurance-companies-for-part-d-plans
  6. National Council on Aging. (2021, August 31). Checklist to Help You Choose a Medicare Part D Plan. Retrieved from https://www.ncoa.org/article/checklist-to-help-you-choose-a-medicare-part-d-plan
  7. Benefits.gov. (n.d.). Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. Retrieved from https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/2202
  8. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). 6 Tips for Choosing Medicare Drug Coverage. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/drug-coverage-part-d/how-to-get-prescription-drug-coverage/6-tips-for-choosing-medicare-drug-coverage
  9. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Medigap and Medicare Drug Coverage (Part D). Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/whats-medicare-supplement-insurance-medigap/medigap-medicare-drug-coverage-part-d
  10. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). How to Get Prescription Drug Coverage. Retreived from https://www.medicare.gov/drug-coverage-part-d/how-to-get-prescription-drug-coverage