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Costly Penalties for Failing to Enroll in Medicare Part D Highlighted in New Medicare Rights Brief

October 11, 2016  
•  Press Releases

Costly Penalties for Failing to Enroll in Medicare Part D Highlighted in
New Medicare Rights Brief

“Medicare Snapshot” Offers Policy Recommendations and
Consumer Advice to Avoid Part D Enrollment Problems

New York, NY—Today, the Medicare Rights Center released a new brief that spotlights the complexities of knowing when to enroll in Medicare Part D and the consequences of making mistakes. The brief, Medicare Snapshot: Stories from the Helpline, Part D Enrollment: Penalty Pitfallsreports on a recurring issue heard on the Medicare Rights national Consumer Helpline.

Since 2006, people with Medicare have benefited from access to coverage for prescription medications by enrolling in private insurance plans through Medicare Part D. However, people eligible for Medicare who fail to enroll in Part D face a late enrollment penalty unless they have other creditable coverage, meaning a prescription drug plan that provides equal or greater value than the standard Part D benefit.

“Many people penalized for not enrolling in Part D could have avoided this pitfall and saved significant time and money,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. “For various reasons, people miss key information they need to make informed decisions about their health care coverage. Oftentimes there is simply inadequate information or insufficient assistance for people with Medicare when it comes to the Part D late enrollment penalty.”

To address these Part D enrollment pitfalls, Medicare Snapshot outlines needed improvements to the Medicare enrollment process, including:

  • Ensuring that Part D plans are not erroneously assessing penalties for their members;
  • Examining the effectiveness of creditable coverage notices; and
  • Enhancing beneficiary education and outreach.

For those eligible for Part D, Medicare Snapshot offers important advice, including:

  • When you become eligible for Medicare, you should enroll in a Part D plan unless you have other creditable prescription drug coverage. Creditable drug coverage is coverage that is considered to be as good as or better than Part D. Your employer (or other entity providing prescription drug coverage) should inform you whether or not your coverage is creditable. If you do not receive this information ask for it.
  • Hold onto any notice of creditable coverage that you may receive. Keep this in a safe place just in case you have to prove your creditable coverage.
  • If you have been without creditable drug coverage for more than 63 days while eligible for Medicare, you may face a lifetime Part D late enrollment penalty that must be paid or you will likely lose your coverage.
  • Everyone has the right to appeal their penalty.

Find more information here on the Part D late enrollment penalty and appeals:

For additional help, visit Medicare Interactive, the Medicare Rights Center’s educational website at, or call 800-333-4114.

Medicare Snapshot: Stories from the Helpline is available at:

Contact: Mitchell Clark – – 212-204-6286


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About Medicare Rights
The Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities.

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