The Best Medicare Part D Providers of 2020

Find the best prescription drug coverage under Medicare

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First Look

When you enroll in Medicare Part D, you’ll be in good company—an estimated 44.9 million people were enrolled in Part D plans in 2019. Part D is the prescription drug coverage portion of Medicare. You pay a premium to the private insurance company of your choice, which helps cover your prescription drug costs.

Medicare requires all Medicare-eligible persons to have some form of creditable prescription drug coverage—this means your Part D plan must meet certain standards. Each prescription drug plan will have a formulary, which is a listing of medications by tiers. Each tier will correspond with costs—generic medications will be the cheapest, while brand-name specialty drugs will cost the most. For example, many common antibiotics such as amoxicillin and penicillin are often available as generics. Examples of brand-name medications include newer diabetes treatment medications, such as Januvia and Victoza, and medications to treat rheumatoid arthritis, such as Humira.

Expert Tip:

If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part D during a key enrollment period, you could be subject to a late enrollment penalty. Medicare will usually require you to pay this penalty throughout the entirety of your prescription drug coverage—so it’s best to enroll on time.

Whether you are new to Medicare or shopping for a medication plan that better fits your needs, selecting a Medicare Part D plan requires careful research. If you select a plan that does not cover most of your medications, you could pay significant out-of-pocket costs.

We have researched the best Medicare Part D plans in terms of states covered, premium costs, Medicare ratings, website ease of use, and prescription pricing transparency. Keep reading to find out how you can shop for the best Medicare Part D plan as well as information on our research of the top companies and their plans.

Expert Tip:

Medicare rates Part D plans on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with a 5-Star Plan being an “excellent” plan. Factors considered include customer service, drug pricing, and member complaints.

Our Top Picks

SilverScript: Best Customer Service Availability

SilverScript

SilverScript 

Pros
  • Large pharmacy network, including CVS

  • 24-hour customer service line

  • Choice plan available in 50 states and the District of Columbia

Cons
  • Only two plans to choose from

  • Plus plan not available in Alaska

SilverScript is a CVS Health company, adding convenience in terms of retail pharmacy access. CVS Health and Aetna merged in 2018, so CVS is now a subsidiary of Aetna, which is listed as the benefits provider when searching for this plan. This merger has enabled CVS Health to grow its Part D plans, and an estimated 23% of all Part D subscribers held a CVS Health policy in 2019 (the earliest available data). 

SilverScript Insurance Company holds the most popular of CVS Health’s available plans: the SilverScript Choice plan. This plan includes a $0 deductible on Tier 1 and Tier 2 medications with low to no copays if you use a SilverScript preferred pharmacy. Prices will vary by state and other factors, such as costs of healthcare in the region, your age, and overall health. For comparison purposes, we reviewed the SilverScript Choice Plan for Houston, Texas, where the monthly premium was quoted at $21.20. 

SilverScript’s Plus plan is slightly pricier at $77.30 in Houston. However, the drug deductible is $0 (compared with $360 for the Choice plan). The Plus plan has a more expansive formulary, which may be beneficial to you if you take several medications or specialty medications.

Expert Tip:

It’s important to note that although SilverScript is a CVS Health company, the company’s preferred pharmacies include other well-known retail locations. These include Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, and Walmart.

The Plan received a 4-star (above average) Medicare rating and is known for its customer service, which includes a 24-hour question line and easy access to an online document library that contains an enrollment guide, claims forms, and formulary lists in one location.

AARP/UnitedHealthcare: Best Decision-Making Tools

AARP/UnitedHealthcare

AARP/UnitedHealthcare

Pros
  • Strategic partnership with Walgreens offers discounts

  • Plan Recommendation tool makes choosing easier

Cons
  • Switches between two websites for education

  • Must create a profile to view Summary of Benefits

AARP’s Part D plans represent a strategic partnership with UnitedHealthcare, much like CVS and SilverScripts. Their plans also have a large market share for Part D plans. An estimated 20.8% of Part D enrollees participated in a UnitedHealth drug plan for 2019. UnitedHealthcare’s Part D Plan in Texas also earned a 5-star plan rating in 2020, and the company has an overall 3.5-star rating. 

All three of AARP’s drug plans were in the top 10 for enrollment in 2019: AARP MedicareRx Preferred, AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus, and AARP MedicareRx Walgreens. 

We reviewed their plans in Chicago, Illinois, where all received a 3.5-star rating. True to its name, the Saver Plus was the least expensive premium at $24.20, while the Preferred plan was $70.90 per month. The Preferred plan has a $0 deductible and a more comprehensive formulary when compared with the Saver Plus.

Their Walgreen’s plan was $33.40 in Chicago, and this plan leverages AARP’s partnership with Walgreen’s to offer the lowest co-payments when filling a prescription there or at Duane Reade.

Both AARP and UnitedHealthcare offer information about their Part D plans on their website. You sometimes have to switch between the two, which can seem more time-consuming. However, we liked UnitedHealthcare’s Get a Plan Recommendation tool, which helped us to answer a few questions and input our medications and dosages to compare their available plans and estimated costs.

Expert Tip:

Medicare requires each Part D formulary cover at least two medications in each major drug category in its “preferred” tier. This is a lower-cost tier where medications are more affordable.

Humana: Best Low-Premium Pricing

Humana

Humana 

Pros
  • Strategic partnerships lower costs

  • Walmart Value Rx Plan offers the lowest premiums nationally

  • Medication Therapy Management program

  • Offered in all 50 states and the District of Columbia

Cons
  • Website light on educational tools

  • No 24-hour helpline

Humana offers three Part D Plans, one of which was introduced in 2020. The new plan is the Humana Walmart Value Rx Plan, which offers an average premium of $13.20 and which the company reports is the lowest of its kind in 47 states and the District of Columbia. The new plan will offer preferred cost-sharing at pharmacies at Walmart and its subsidiaries. Humana’s strategic partnerships with Walmart, Walmart Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club mean more opportunities for you to save.

Additional plans include the Humana Basic Rx Plan and the Humana Premier Rx Plan. We looked at the average premium costs in Los Angeles, California: The Basic plan was $33.00 and the Premier plan was $64.50. The Premier plan is costlier but features a larger listing of in-network pharmacies and more drugs on its formulary. The Basic plan features a deductible of $435 toward all drug tiers, while the deductible for other plans applied only to tiers 3, 4, and 5.

Its website quote tools were efficient, as you could import your list of medications from Medicare.gov. This saved time and allowed for a more precise estimation of yearly drug costs. You could also compare the plans side-by-side. We were missing some educational elements or decision tools from Humana’s site that could make selecting a plan easier.

One of the value-added services Humana offers to members taking more than eight medications or with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or chronic heart failure is its Medication Therapy Management program. This service helps you schedule a meeting with a local pharmacist to evaluate the list of medicines you’re taking to help identify potential interactions as well as cost-saving opportunities.

Cigna: Best Wellness Perks

Cigna

Cigna 

Pros
  • 63,000 pharmacies in-network

  • Formulary covers more than 3,000 medications

  • Benefit forms translated to Spanish are readily available

  • Part D coverage in all 50 states and the District of Columbia

Cons
  • No current strategic pharmaceutical partnership

  • No side-by-side plan comparison tool

Cigna-Healthspring (Healthspring is an insurance division of Cigna) has an impressive pharmacy network—there are more than 63,000 locations across the country. Obtaining medications from in-network pharmacies will provide you the greatest cost-savings. Additionally, Cigna’s plans have a formulary that has at least 3,000 medications, providing further cost savings. It offers Part D coverage in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. While it has a large pharmacy network, Cigna does not have a key strategic partnership that can offer further cost savings than a preferred network.

Cigna offers three plans: Cigna-HealthSpring Rx Secure, Rx Secure-Essential, and Secure-Extra. The Secure plan is its “basic protection” plan, which can help if you receive Extra Help in paying for medications or don’t currently take a lot of medications. We were quoted a monthly premium of $27 for the Asheville, North Carolina, ZIP code with coverage that includes free generic medications with no-cost home delivery.

Cigna’s Secure-Extra program is a program for those who benefit from a larger formulary and more cost protection (for example, if you have many chronic medical conditions). We were quoted a monthly premium of $57.90 for Asheville, which is still on the lower side of premier plans. The pharmacy deductible for this plan is $100, whereas the other plans have a $435 deductible.

Cigna’s website offers a quote tool on the landing page. We liked that its forms, including the Summary of Benefits, Star Ratings, and Enrollment Forms were available in both English and Spanish on our results listing. Cigna’s Overall Star Ratings performed higher than average at 3.5 stars, but we have reviewed plans that consistently achieved 4-star or higher ratings.

Participation in a Cigna Part D plan means you have access to its Healthy Rewards program. This provides discounts to fitness, vision, wellness, and alternative medicine programs.

WellCare: Best Plan Variety

WellCare

WellCare

Pros
  • Six plans to choose from

  • 68,000 network pharmacies

  • Available in 50 states and the District of Columbia

Cons
  • No-frills website

  • No plan comparison tool

WellCare is a nationwide company that has 68,000 network pharmacies—a very comprehensive network. It also offers six plan choices that range in price and coverage from basic to premium. 

We priced WellCare’s Part D plans in Phoenix, Arizona. The options and monthly premiums were Select ($13.10), Wellness Rx ($14.50), Value Script ($17.40), Classic ($24.90), Rx Saver ($31.70), and Value Plus ($73.30). With the exception of the Value Plus program, most premiums are under or close to the national average.

As a plan overall, Medicare awarded WellCare 3.5 stars. Its Value Script, Select, and Wellness Rx plans don’t have a deductible for Tiers 1 and 2, and neither does the Value Plus plan.

The website doesn’t have a lot of educational tools or intricate designs, but it is clean and easy to follow. Because there are so many plans, a plan comparison tool would have helped in evaluating each option. It does feature downloadable forms in both English and Spanish, with a multi-language interpreter service in a wide variety of languages.

For those who take multiple medications or have chronic medical conditions, WellCare offers a Medication Therapy Management program. This approach allows you to participate in a one-on-one review annually with a pharmacist to check for drug interactions and provide tips to best manage your health. WellCare also offers an enhanced “Healthy Living Program” in 11 states: Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming. This voluntary program provides a health coach, a dedicated call center, and an educational website.

Mutual of Omaha: Best Price Transparency

Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha 

Pros
  • Offered in 49 states (not available in New York)

  • Pricing by state available on Summary of Benefits

  • Many current educational resources

Cons
  • Plans are too new to receive a CMS star rating

  • Only two plans offered

While Mutual of Omaha may be new to Medicare Plan Part D participation, its company reputation (it's been in business for more than 110 years), plan offerings, and the clean, easy-to-understand website make it one of the top companies. Mutual of Omaha launched its Part D plans to 49 states in 2019.

The company offers two plans: Mutual of Omaha Rx Value and the Mutual of Omaha Rx Plus. We priced its plans in Baltimore, Maryland, and were quoted a monthly price of $30.10 for the Value plan and $63.00 for the Plus plan. According to the Benefits Overview, the Plus Plan ranges from $46 to $63.90 while the Value plan ranges from $21.70 to $30.90. Mutual of Omaha offers preferred pricing at more than 24,000 pharmacies, including big names like CVS, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and CVS/Target.

Regarding costs, Mutual of Omaha offers $0 copays on Tier 1 medications at preferred pharmacies and via its mail-order options. It also offers a $0 deductible on Tier 1 and Tier 2 medications as part of its value plan, which made it one of the most competitive plans we reviewed for Tier pricing.

Mutual of Omaha’s website was also a standout for using easy-to-understand callouts and illustrations. It also has a separate library of articles that educates consumers without specifically discussing the products. We liked the “Know More About My Medicare Options” section, which included a guide to understanding Part D drug plans.

How to Shop and Compare Medicare Part D Plans 

Step 1: Enroll in Medicare 

You are first eligible to enroll in a Part D plan under three circumstances. These include:

  • Initial Enrollment Period: This is the time period when you’re first eligible for Medicare. It’s a seven-month stretch that starts three months before your 65th birthday and goes up to three months after your birthday.
  • Disability Coverage Under Age 65: If you qualify for disability coverage under age 65, you are eligible to sign up for Part D as soon as 21 months after you first receive your disability benefits and up to 28 months after you have received your Social Security benefits.
  • You’ve Lost or Changed Your Drug Coverage: Sometimes, you may belong to a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan that stops offering prescription drug benefits—or you lose your benefits from an employer’s insurance plan. At this time, you have a Special Enrollment Period of up to 63 days during which you can enroll in new prescription drug coverage.

Step 2: Find Out Which Companies Offer Medicare Plan D in Your Area

Medicare Plan D options are region-specific. This means not all companies offer the same plans (or premiums) in every area. You can find out about available plans by using the Plan Finder tool on Medicare.gov. You can also visit a company’s website and search for its Part D plans.

Step 3: Make a List of All Your Prescriptions

When evaluating each plan, it’s important to read through each plan’s formulary, which is the list of the medications the particular plan covers. If you have a list of your medications, you can compare it to a plan’s formulary. Ideally, you can choose the plan that covers all or most of your plan’s prescriptions.

Step 4: Compare Prices and Premiums Among Plans

The cost of your medications isn’t the only consideration. You’ll also want to evaluate the monthly premium for your plan. The premium should be affordable to you relative to what you may pay for your medicines.

Step 5: Talk to an Insurance Broker or Consultant

Unless evaluating Medicare plans is something you do every day, it’s understandable that you’ll have questions. An excellent resource is your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), a nationwide network of programs that provide free, unbiased counseling for Medicare benefits. You can also speak to an insurance broker or consultant, keeping in mind they may not be unbiased, but they may have access to better pricing for some plans.

Step 6: Sign Up

Once you select a plan, you can usually sign up online. If you go through an insurance broker, they may also assist you in the sign-up process, either online or via a paper form. Once your application is accepted, the insurance company will notify you when your Part D plan starts and will send you your insurance card.

How We Chose the Best Medicare Part D Plan Providers

Our selection of the Best Medicare Part D companies involved looking at companies whose ratings were consistently at 3 stars or higher for the national average, which worked out to be about 20 companies. We then further narrowed the list by coverage area, giving preference to companies that offered plans to 40 states or more so our recommendations can benefit the greatest number of readers. Additional considerations included website ease of use, plan variety, premium costs, perks or extra benefits, and the presence of strategic, cost-saving partnerships.

How Do I Enroll in Medicare Part D?

You can enroll in Medicare Part D as soon as you have your Medicare Number. You will receive this via a card when you join Medicare Parts A and/or B. You can search for prescription drug plans via Medicare’s Plan Finder or by individual insurance companies.

Once you select your plan of choice, you can apply. The application will ask for your Medicare Number as well as when you were first eligible for coverage.

How Much Should I Expect to Pay for Medicare Part D?

When it comes to Medicare, there are standalone Part D plans and plans that are a part of a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan. Medicare Advantage plans tend to have a lower premium with prescription drug coverage because they are a “bundled” plan. For this reason, the average monthly premium for all Part D plans in 2019 was $29.20, while the average cost for standalone Part D plans was $39.63.

For SilverScript Choice (the country’s most popular plan with 22% of all Medicare enrollees participating), the average monthly premium was $31 in 2019. However, the second-most popular plan (the AARP MedicareRx Preferred) has a $75 monthly premium.

Does Medicare Cover Insulin?

How Medicare covers insulin depends upon the type you use. For example, if you use injectable insulin, Medicare Part D covers the insulin as well as supplies you may need to inject the insulin, such as alcohol swabs and syringes.

However, if you use insulin administered via an insulin pump, Medicare Part B will usually pay for the insulin. Medicare may cover only certain insulin pump types and insulin, so it’s important to check for covered pump types before purchasing.

What Is the Difference Between Medicare Part B and Part D?

Medicare Part B is the portion of Medicare that covers medical expenses. This includes doctor’s visits and some durable medical equipment. Medicare Part B also covers some medications. As a general rule, Medicare Part B covers medications that you don’t give yourself. Examples would include an infusion, some vaccinations, or other injections you receive at a doctor’s office.

Medicare Part D usually covers medications that you give to yourself. There are some exceptions, such as some oral cancer drugs and immunosuppressive drug therapy. If you aren’t sure which Medicare Part covers a particular drug, you can visit Medicare.gov and search “Does Medicare Cover My Item, Test, or Service” or review your Part D drug plan formulary.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kaiser Family Foundation. “10 Things to Know About Medicare Part D Coverage and Costs in 2019.” Accessed September 6, 2020. 

  2. CMS.gov. “Fact Sheet - 2020 Part C and D Star Ratings.” Accessed September 7, 2020.