Medicare Part D is Medicare’s prescription drug coverage that’s offered to help with the cost of medication.

Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) is a health plan option that’s similar to one you’d purchase from an employer. Most Medicare Advantage plans include Medicare Part D coverage.

Part C and Part D are two of the four primary parts of Medicare:

If you’re trying to decide between adding Part D coverage to original Medicare or buying a Medicare Advantage plan that includes everything, we’ll break down what each plan covers, costs, and how to choose the best plan for your needs.

Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, offers an all-in-one style plan that allows many options to tailor your healthcare coverage.

Medicare Part C provides all the benefits of Medicare parts A and B, also known as original Medicare. These plans also typically offer additional benefits, such as dental, vision, and prescription drug coverage.

For Medicare Part C, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) contracts with public or private organizations to offer a variety of health plan options.


When considering Medicare Part C, along with comparing benefits, compare costs, too. Typically, you’ll pay a separate monthly premium, but not all Medicare Advantage plans have monthly premiums.


If you’re enrolled in original Medicare (parts A and B), you’re eligible to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare Part D is an optional benefit for all people who have Medicare. It adds drug coverage to:


The monthly premium you pay for Medicare Part D varies by plan. Those earning a higher income may pay more for this coverage.


You’re eligible for Medicare Part D when you become eligible and sign up for Medicare.

If you didn’t sign up for Medicare Part D when you were first eligible, you may be required to pay a late enrollment penalty for the entire time you continue with Part D.

You can also avoid it if you qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help program by meeting certain income and resource limits.

You can’t have both parts C and D. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) that includes prescription drug coverage and you join a Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D), you’ll be unenrolled from Part C and sent back to original Medicare.

To help you get specific information on available drug plans (Medicare Part D) and Medicare Advantage plans (Part C), the CMS has a Medicare plan finder at You have a choice of using this plan finder in either English or Spanish.

If you’re eligible for Medicare and want or need prescription drug coverage, you can get it through Medicare Part D. Or you can also get it through a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C) that offers coverage for prescription medication.

Before committing to one or the other, reviewcost and coverage details to make sure you have a plan that best suits yourhealthcare needs and your budget.