What Should You Know About Prescription Deductibles?
Prescription deductibles aren’t too complicated. In fact, deductibles can be one of the easiest parts of a plan to compare. They can be seen at a glance, and there aren’t many factors to consider. But you should know the differences between plans before you decide in order to avoid surprises at the pharmacy or in your bank account.
Before going into detail about the different types of prescription deductibles, it’s important to exactly define what a deductible is. A deductible is a form of cost-sharing. Before your plan will begin to pay for covered services and products, if your plan has a deductible, you must first pay a predetermined amount out of pocket. The total amount of your deductible (and whether it is combined for medical and prescription) will vary by plan.
Medicare Part D Rx Deductible
Medicare Part D, which is a drug plan offered to Medicare enrollees, has different rules for its deductibles. Unlike those offered by employers or through the Marketplace, no plan can have a prescription deductible higher than $480 in 2022. Deductible prices can still vary (with a maximum of $415), and some plans will not have a deductible.
Control Your Part D Expenses With Extra Help">Extra Help
While Extra Help">Extra Help does not lower Part D prescription deductibles, it can lower premiums for many seniors. If you need prescription coverage but cannot afford Part D premiums, consider applying for Extra Help">Extra Help.
Combined Prescription Deductible
If you have a combined prescription deductible, your medical and prescription costs will count toward one total deductible. Usually, once this single deductible is met, your prescriptions will be covered at your plan’s designated amount. This doesn’t mean your prescriptions will be free, though. You may still have to pay some form of cost-sharing, even after a deductible is met.
Joe’s health plan has a combined deductible of $3,000. He has purchased $250 in prescriptions and spent $2,750 on a minor surgery covered by his plan, which he paid for out of pocket. Joe’s deductible has been met for any medical or prescription purchase he makes in this plan year. He will only have to pay $10 for each refill of the regular, generic prescription he takes.
On the Marketplace
If you are shopping on the Marketplace, combined medical and prescription drug deductibles can be found in most bronze and silver plans. In 2021, 88% of bronze plans and 79% of silver plans offered combined deductibles. For the same year, the following metal tiers’ combined deductibles averaged:
- Bronze: $6,921
- Silver: $4,816
- Gold: $1,641
- Platinum: $0
Separate Prescription Deductible
If you have a separate prescription deductible, only prescription costs will count. No other covered medical costs (such as visiting the doctor’s office) will count toward your prescription deductible. While this may seem like a negative aspect, separate prescription deductibles can be much lower than combined deductibles that cover both medical care and prescriptions, so they can be easier to meet.
Joe’s health plan has a separate prescription deductible of $250. While he has already spent $2,750 on a minor surgery covered by his plan, none of this cost counts toward his prescription deductible. He must still pay $250 toward his prescriptions to meet his deductible. Once he has met his deductible, he will only have to pay $10 for each refill of the regular, generic prescription he takes.
On the Marketplace
If you are shopping on the Marketplace, many gold and platinum tier plans will offer separate deductibles. In 2021, 28% of gold plans and 55% of platinum plans offered separate deductibles.
Control Prescription Expenses With an HSA
Because prescription medications are “qualified medical expenses,” health savings accounts (HSAs) can be used to purchase prescriptions before and after a prescription deductible has been met. Remember, that does not mean everything available at the pharmacy can be charged to your HSA.
|From the Pharmacy||Can You Use Your HSA?||Why?|
|Prescription Medication||✓ YES||Because the medication has been prescribed by a doctor, it is a qualified medical expense.|
|Over-the-counter Medication||✓ YES||Medications that are not prescribed, such as cold medicines are deemed qualified medical expenses.|
|Prescription Supplement||✓ YES||Because the supplement has been prescribed by a doctor, it is a qualified medical expense.|
|Over-the-counter Supplement||✓ YES||Supplements that are not prescribed may be deemed qualified medical expenses with a Letter of Medical Necessity. Prenatal vitamins are also considered a qualified medical expense.|
Learn More With HealthMarkets
Prescription deductibles may be easy to compare at a glance, but there are more complicated features of your plan you should also know about. HealthMarkets can help, at no cost to you. Contact a licensed insurance agent by calling (800) 827-9990 today.