Medicare Part D is a segment of Medicare coverage that helps pay for prescription drugs for patients. Originally, Medicare consisted of Part A for hospital expenses and Part B for doctor's visits. The increasing cost of medication led President George W. Bush to propose an expansion in the program.
Medicare Part D offers prescription coverage up to a set amount each year, and then patients enter what is known as the "doughnut hole." In 2014, this meant that copayments covered most medication up to a total of $2,850 per calendar year, and then patients became responsible for 47.5 percent of drug costs until an outlay of $4,550 was reached. After that, the plan paid 95 percent of all medication costs. The 2010 health care reform laws addressed this gap in coverage, and by 2020 will reduce the costs to 25 percent for any medication bought while in the gap.
In addition to Part D, there is also a Medicare Part C. Part C is also known as Medicare Advantage and consists of private healthcare plans that supplant traditional Medicare coverage. Companies take a stipend from the government and in return, provide medical coverage. These plans usually contain their own prescription drug benefits.