Does Medicare Cover Antidepressants?

Original Medicare does not cover the cost of antidepressants. You will have to purchase a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with Part D coverage to help with prescription drug costs.

Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Terry Turner

    Terry Turner

    Senior Financial Writer and Financial Wellness Facilitator

    Terry Turner has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including covering benefits, spending and congressional action on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare. He is a Certified Financial Wellness Facilitator through the National Wellness Institute and the Foundation for Financial Wellness and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®).

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  • Edited By
    Lee Williams
    Lee Williams, senior editor for RetireGuide.com

    Lee Williams

    Senior Financial Editor

    Lee Williams is a professional writer, editor and content strategist with 10 years of professional experience working for global and nationally recognized brands. He has contributed to Forbes, The Huffington Post, SUCCESS Magazine, AskMen.com, Electric Literature and The Wall Street Journal. His career also includes ghostwriting for Fortune 500 CEOs and published authors.

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  • Published: May 26, 2021
  • Updated: November 1, 2022
  • 4 min read time
  • This page features 8 Cited Research Articles
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APA Turner, T. (2022, November 1). Does Medicare Cover Antidepressants? RetireGuide.com. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/medicare/treatments/mental-health/antidepressants/

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Does Medicare Cover Antidepressants?

Original Medicare — Medicare Part A and Part B — does not cover antidepressants or any other prescription drugs, but Medicare beneficiaries do have options for drug coverage under other Medicare plans.

You can buy a separate Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in addition to your Original Medicare coverage. Alternatively, you can buy a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D benefits. Either option will provide you with Medicare coverage for antidepressants.

To be eligible for coverage under these plans, you will need a doctor’s prescription for an antidepressant that has been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You’ll also have to be under the care of a doctor to have your prescription renewed.

Is Your Antidepressant Covered?
Medicare considers antidepressants a protected class of prescription medicine. Because of that, all Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans must cover a majority of antidepressants. But you may have to switch from a brand-name antidepressant to a generic version depending on your plan.

Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans are sold by private insurers. Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover everything Original Medicare covers, but these plans are allowed to provide additional benefits.

Original Medicare will cover other mental health services.

Medicare Part A cover some mental health services you receive if you are admitted to a hospital as an inpatient.

Medicare Part B will pay a portion of the cost for mental health services, including annual depression screenings and wellness visits, psychiatric evaluations and other tests. Part B also covers counseling and medication management.

A Medigap — Medicare Supplement insurance — policy can help you with your out-of-pocket costs for other treatments covered under Original Medicare.

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Your Antidepressant Costs Under Medicare

How much you spend on antidepressants with Medicare drug coverage will vary depending on several factors. These include your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan’s costs and whether you use a brand-name antidepressant or a generic version.

You will want to check the Medicare Part D formulary — a list of drugs your plan covers. Your plan’s formulary will also classify your prescription into one of several tiers. The higher the tier, the more you will pay for the drug.

Example of Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Tiers
Tier 1
Lowest copayment; includes most generic prescription drugs
Tier 2
Medium copayment; brand-name prescription drugs given preference by your plan
Tier 3
Higher copayment; nonpreferred brand-name prescription drugs
Tier 4
Highest copayment or coinsurance; high-cost prescription medications

Your share of the cost in the lower tiers is usually a copayment — a fixed dollar amount. Higher tiers may require you to pay coinsurance — a percentage of the medication’s price.

How much you pay for drugs on each tier varies from plan to plan. You will need to contact your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan’s administrator to find out what your specific costs will be.

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How Much Do Antidepressants Cost?

The retail prices of antidepressants can vary widely from brand-name drugs to generic prescription medicines. The most widely prescribed antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Pricing for a 30-Day Supply of SSRI Antidepressants (2021)
AntidepressantBrand Name Generic Version
Celexa (citalopram)$287 to $404$4 - $21
Lexapro (escitalopram)$381 - $480$7 - $167
Paxil, Pexeva (paroxetine)$202 - $276$4 - $42
Prozac, Sarafem (fluoxetine)$504 - $646$4 - $30
Zoloft (sertraline) $345 - $557$6 - $63
Source: National Library of Medicine and GoodRx

Other modern antidepressants include Wellbutrin (bupropion) and a class of drugs called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Pricing for a 30-Supply of Other Popular Antidepressants (2021)
AntidepressantBrand NameGeneric Version
Cymbalta (duloxetine)$267 - $339$11 - $248
Effexor XR (venlafaxine)Brand name no longer available$9 - $65
Wellbutrin (bupropion)$1,569 - $1,876$11 - $128
Source: National Library of Medicine and GoodRx

In some cases, doctors may prescribe older antidepressants such as tricyclics, tetracyclics and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These are not as frequently used because they have more side effects, but they work better for some people.

Last Modified: November 1, 2022

8 Cited Research Articles

  1. National Library of Medicine. (2020, March 31). Commonly Prescribed Antidepressants and How They Work. Retrieved from https://magazine.medlineplus.gov/article/commonly-prescribed-antidepressants-and-how-they-work
  2. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2021, February). Depression Disparities in Medicare Fee-for-Service Beneficiaries. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/OMH/Downloads/OMH_Dwnld-DataSnapshot-Depression.pdf
  3. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2020, May 1). Medicare Is Here for Your Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/blog/medicare-mental-health-coverage-2020
  4. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2021, September). Medicare and Your Mental Health Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/sites/default/files/2021-09/11358-Medicare-and-Your-Mental-Health-Benefits-Getting-Started.pdf
  5. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2019, September). Your Guide to Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/sites/default/files/2021-07/11109-Medicare-Drug-Coverage-Guide_0.pdf
  6. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Depression Screenings. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/depression-screening
  7. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Mental Health Care (Outpatient). Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/mental-health-care-outpatient
  8. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). What Medicare Part D Drug Plans Cover. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/drug-coverage-part-d/what-medicare-part-d-drug-plans-cover