What is the Medicare Part D Late Enrollment Penalty?
The late enrollment penalty is an amount added to your Medicare Part D monthly premium.
You may owe a late enrollment penalty if you go without a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D), or without a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) (like an HMO or PPO) or other Medicare health plan that offers Medicare prescription drug coverage, or without creditable prescription drug coverage for any continuous period of 63 days or more after your Initial Enrollment Period is over.
What is Creditable Prescription Drug Coverage?
Creditable prescription drug coverage is coverage (for example from an employer or a union) that is expected to pay, on average, at least as much as Medicare's standard prescription drug coverage. People who have this kind of coverage when they become eligible for Medicare can generally keep that coverage without paying a penalty if they decide to enroll in Medicare drug coverage later.
How much is the Part D penalty?
The cost of the late enrollment penalty depends on how long you went without Part D or creditable prescription drug coverage.
Medicare calculates the penalty by multiplying 1% of the "national base beneficiary premium" ($34.10 in 2016; $35.63 in 2017) times the number of full, uncovered months you didn't have Part D or creditable coverage. The monthly premium is rounded to the nearest $.10 and added to your monthly Part D premium.
The national base beneficiary premium may increase each year, so your penalty amount may also increase each year.
How do I know if I owe a penalty?
After you join a Medicare drug plan, the plan will tell you if you owe a penalty and what your premium will be. In general, you'll have to pay this penalty for as long as you have a Medicare drug plan.
What if I don't agree with the late enrollment penalty?
You may be able to ask for a "reconsideration." Your drug plan will send information about how to request a reconsideration.
Complete the form, and return it to the address or fax number listed on the form within 60 days from the date on the letter stating you had to pay a late enrollment penalty. Also send any proof that supports your case, like a copy of your notice of creditable prescription drug coverage from an employer or union plan.
Do I have to pay the penalty even if I don't agree with it?
By law, the late enrollment penalty is part of the premium, so you must pay the penalty with the premium. You must also pay the penalty even if you've asked for a reconsideration. Medicare drug plans can disenroll members who don't pay their premiums, including the late enrollment penalty portion of the premium.
How soon will I get a reconsideration decision?
In general, Medicare’s contractor makes reconsideration decisions within 90 days. The contractor will try to make a decision as quickly as possible. However, you may request an extension. Or, for good cause, Medicare’s contractor may take an additional 14 days to resolve your case.
What happens if Medicare's contractor decides the penalty is wrong?
If Medicare’s contractor decides that all or part of your late enrollment penalty is wrong, the Medicare contractor will send you and your drug plan a letter explaining its decision. Your Medicare drug plan will remove or reduce your late enrollment penalty and will send you a letter that shows the correct premium amount and explains whether you'll get a refund.
What happens if Medicare's contractor decides the penalty is correct?
If Medicare’s contractor decides that your late enrollment penalty is correct, the Medicare contractor will send you a letter explaining the decision, and you must pay the penalty.
Three ways to avoid the late enrollment penalty
See examples of the late enrollment penalty calculation
Learn about initial enrollment periods