Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage For Dummies
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People new to Medicare very often ask, “Why should I pay out good money for Part D when I don’t use any prescription drugs?” It’s a perfectly fair question. But the standard answer is “Because you don’t have a crystal ball.” No one does.

In other words, you can’t peer into the future and know for a fact that you won’t fall victim to some unforeseen illness or injury that takes expensive drugs to treat — next month, next year, or a decade down the road. And that’s true even if you lead the healthiest of lifestyles. The strictest regimens of salads and workouts can’t guarantee immunity from genetic disease or the results of a serious car crash.

The point is that Part D is insurance, just like homeowners insurance and auto insurance. You pay premiums to protect yourself from the high costs of fire and accidents, even if you never expect to make a claim. Part D plays a similar role: It’s there if and when you need it.

The difference is that, as you get older, your chances of needing prescription drugs are far higher than your chances of totaling your car.

Nonetheless, when you don’t take any medications, or take only a few occasional ones, those monthly premiums can seem a waste of money. So you may want to consider a compromise: Pick the Part D plan with the lowest premium in your area. That way, you get coverage, but at the least cost.

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Patricia Barry is a recognized authority on Medicare who has written extensively about the program for consumers. For nearly two decades, as a senior editor of AARP's publications, she wrote hundreds of articles on Medicare and served as the online "Ask Ms. Medicare" columnist, answering thousands of questions sent by Medicare beneficiaries across the nation.

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