Senior Living



Why enrolling in Medicare Part D is important



I was told to receive a shingles vaccination; I need to be enrolled in a Part D prescription drug plan for the vaccination to have a $0 copay or pay $200. I thought all vaccinations and immunizations are covered at no cost under Medicare Part B.

Can you explain this Medicare rule? Thank you.

--Carl from Lubbock, Texas


On January 1, 2023, the Inflation Reduction Act eliminated all out-of- pocket costs for vaccines which the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended for adults. This important Medicare change went into effect whether you have drug coverage from a stand-alone Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan or from a Medicare Advantage plan with Part D coverage. The shingles vaccine, also known as Shingrix, is included at no cost.


Carl, I hope you are enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan, or you will have to pay more than $200 per dose for Shingrix, which the Food and Drug Administration approved in 2017. Not being enrolled in a Part D or Advantage plan with Part D coverage is why you were told that you might have to pay over $200 per dose for the vaccine.

It is very important for those leaving employer group health insurance after 65 or enrolling in Medicare for the first time (when turning 65 or before 65 if eligible) to be sure to enroll in a Medicare Part D stand-alone prescription drug plan, with or without a Medicare Supplement, or a Medicare Advantage plan with Part D. Having the shingles shot covered with a $0 copay is an important reason Americans should enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when eligible.

Those with a Medicare Part D plan can receive their shingles vaccine at the pharmacy or doctor’s office. If you have trouble affording the Medicare Part D prescription drug premium, you may qualify for the Medicare’s Extra Help program that assists people with limited income and assets to pay premiums and out-of-pocket costs for Part D drug coverage.

Page 50 of the 2024 Medicare and You handbook explains how flu, hepatitis, pneumonia and COVID-19 shots (or vaccines) are covered under Medicare Part B. The handbook states that shots are covered under Medicare and that you may pay nothing for the shot as long as your doctor or other health care provider accepts Medicare assignment. Always verify that your doctor is accepting Medicare assignment.


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Copyright 2024 Toni King, Distributed by Counterpoint Media




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