Medicare

What's the Best Medicare Part D Plan for 2023?

What's the Best Medicare Part D Plan for 2023?

Aetna/SilverScript has the best Medicare Part D plans for prescription drug coverage in 2023.

Find Cheap Medicare Plans in Your Area

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There are three key factors when shopping for the best Medicare Part D plan for prescription drugs. Look for a plan with at least a 3-star rating so that it'll be good quality. Focus on plans with reasonable monthly costs that will fit into your budget. And importantly, compare prescription costs for the medications you currently take to find the best Part D plan for your needs.

Our picks: Top Medicare Part D plans for 2023

Best-rated Medicare Part D companies

SilverScript plans from Aetna are the best choice for Medicare Part D in 2023. They have the highest ratings and reasonable costs of $39 per month, on average.

Category

Company
Rating
Monthly cost
Popularity
Best overallAetna Silverscript3.5$3926%
Largest network of pharmaciesBlue Cross Blue Shield3.5$825%
Easiest to useAARP/UHC3.3$6017%
Best for cheap plansWellcare3.0$3818%
Good for cheap plansCigna3.0$3612%
Best mail-order prescriptionsHumana3.0$5115%

Ratings are on a 5-point scale and are the average of each company's overall prescription drug plan rating on Medicare.gov. Popularity is the market share percentage based on enrollment. Blue Cross Blue Shield includes all regional subsidiaries and Anthem.

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These six major insurance companies account for the majority of enrollment in Part D plans. Most plans will provide a similar set of basic benefits, and policies are becoming increasingly similar. However, the plan's details, including the annual deductible and list of covered drugs, will determine which prescription plan has benefits that meet your needs.

Prescription drug plans, called Medicare Part D, are private insurance plans that cover medications that are not included in your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) coverages.

You can also bundle your prescription drug coverage into a Medicare Advantage plan that combines Medicare Parts A, B and D with other add-on benefits.

Ratings

Cost

Deductibles

Medicare.gov rankings of Medicare Part D plans show which companies have good overall performance and satisfied policyholders. Shoppers should choose a plan with at least 3 stars. In most cases, you won't be able to get a plan higher than 3.5 stars because 4-star plans are only available in select states from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Ratings

Medicare.gov rankings of Medicare Part D plans show which companies have good overall performance and satisfied policyholders. Shoppers should choose a plan with at least 3 stars. In most cases, you won't be able to get a plan higher than 3.5 stars because 4-star plans are only available in select states from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Cost

A Medicare Part D plan costs an average of $49 per month for 2023. However, available plans can cost between $2 and $201 per month. To find the plans that are the best deal, we considered the value of how the plan's monthly costs compares to its coverage.

Deductibles

We also considered how a plan's deductible would affect your overall prescription costs, including the cost of the deductible and which tiers of prescriptions are excluded from the deductible. The average prescription drug deductible is $389 per year for Part D plans for 2023.

When comparing Part D plans, we didn't consider the specific list of drugs that are covered. Although the list, called a drug formulary, is very important when choosing your plan, it's ultimately a personal choice because the best option for you depends on the exact medications you take. Companies have similarly sized lists because they're all required to cover a broad range of drugs including at least two drugs per medication category.

Avoid Medicare Part D plans that have a rating below 3 stars, such as those from Elixir Insurance, Mutual of Omaha and Clear Spring Health. Although Part D plans from these companies are widely available, the low customer satisfaction and high rate of complaints make them a poor choice for coverage.

Company
Rating
Monthly cost
Elixir Insurance2.5$50
Mutual of Omaha2.0$60
Clear Spring Health1.5$24

Remember that company performance can vary depending on the type of insurance you purchase. For example, Mutual of Omaha's Medicare Supplement plans are a good value and have average ratings, even though its Part D plans fall short.

The cost of insulin is now limited to $35 per month for all Medicare Part D plans starting in 2023. Plus, insulin is excluded from any plan deductible, so you'll have low prices as soon as your plan begins.

This change to Medicare Part D means those who take insulin have more options for good coverage. In previous years, only a select number of plans had the $35-per-month insulin benefit.

Insulin cost estimates may not be accurate when comparing Part D plans on the Medicare.gov website because this benefit was recently added. After enrolling in a plan, policyholders should carefully check their insulin costs to make sure they're not paying more than the $35 limit.

Aetna/SilverScript: Best overall

  • Overall rating

  • Average monthly cost: $39

These popular plans are affordable and highly rated.

  • Best overall rating on Medicare.gov
  • Cheapest plan costs about $6 per month
  • Mixed customer satisfaction

Aetna and SilverScript plans are a good choice for most people because they are priced affordably, typically have a lower deductible than other companies and have a high average rating across most performance categories. They're also very popular for prescription drug coverage, accounting for about 26% of all enrollment in stand-alone Medicare Part D plans.

The cheapest plan, SilverScript SmartSaver, only costs about $6 per month and offers preferred generic drugs (called Tier 1 drugs) for a $2 copay per prescription without needing to meet a deductible. And there are reasonable copays for other types of prescriptions, making it a good choice for most people.

A key advantage of Aetna's Part D plans is that members get access to the digital tools of CVS Caremark. This includes resources for prescription pricing, discounts, deductible tracking, spending summaries and more.

Even though policyholders are more likely to renew their Aetna plans, customer satisfaction is not as good as with other companies. In addition, Aetna's parent company, CVS, handles its mail-order prescription program and has the worst customer satisfaction of all pharmacies studied by J.D. Power. So even when plan coverage is strong, there could be frustrations when using the plan or interacting with the company. If you value an easy customer experience, consider Wellcare, which is well-rated by policyholders.

Wellcare: Best for cheap plans

  • Overall rating

  • Average monthly cost: $38

Wellcare's low-cost plans can be a good deal for generic drugs.

  • High ratings from policyholders
  • Cheapest plan costs about $10 per month
  • More expensive plans may not be a good deal
  • Low customer satisfaction for mail-order prescriptions

Wellcare's cheap plans stand out for having a great combination of low monthly costs, low copays for generic prescriptions (Tier 1 and 2 drugs) and not having a deductible for generic drugs. This means that from the start of the policy, you'll only pay a copay for generic prescriptions, without having to first pay hundreds of dollars for full-priced drugs before the copay rates begin.

If you have moderate prescription needs, you could save about $600 per year on generic prescriptions with the Wellcare Value Script plan, which costs an average of $10 per month, compared to the cheap plans offered by other companies.

Even though Wellcare only received 3 stars from Medicare.gov, policyholders give above-average ratings for their drug plans. However, Wellcare also uses CVS Caremark for home delivery of prescriptions, which has the worst customer satisfaction according to J.D. Power.

When comparing the cheapest plan offered by each company, annual costs can change dramatically based on which generic prescriptions are excluded from the deductible.

Below is the total annual cost for the insurance plan and generic prescriptions based on a Medicare enrollee in Chicago who purchases 30-day supplies of generic prescriptions at a preferred pharmacy. In these examples, someone choosing the Wellcare plan could save between $658 and $1,073 per year.

Plan
Low needs
Moderate needs
High needs
Wellcare Value Script$97$217$397
Aetna SilverScript SmartSaver$98$858$1,470
Cigna Saver Rx$145$385$745
Blue Cross MedicareRx Choice$214$334$514
AARP MedicareRx Walgreens$316$856$1,252
Humana Basic Rx Plan$851$875$911

When plans required shoppers to meet a deductible, we assumed that the full retail price was $50 per Tier 1 prescription and $75 for a Tier 2 prescription. Plan details may change by location.

AARP/UnitedHealthcare: Best for easy use

  • Overall rating

  • Average monthly cost: $60

These plans are popular and well-rated, but the monthly costs can be high.

  • High-quality plans with a good overall rating on Medicare.gov
  • Low rate of policyholder complaints
  • Cheapest plan costs about $29 per month, which is high
  • Plan benefits don't always warrant the high monthly costs

AARP/UnitedHealthcare (UHC) prescription drug plans are widely available across the U.S., and plans are well-rated, averaging 3.3 stars. Policyholders are generally satisfied with their plans and are more likely to renew their coverage, rather than switch to another company. And prescription home delivery is available through Optum, which has good customer satisfaction ratings.

A key thing that stands out for AARP/UHC is how easy it is to use the website to find plan benefits, the list of covered drugs, preferred pharmacies and your plan details. These digital tools can help you avoid the frustrating experience of other insurance companies, where it can be hard to find what you're looking for online.

The downside is that average monthly costs with AARP/UHC are more expensive than with some other providers. Its cheapest plan, AARP MedicareRx Walgreens, costs an average of $29 per month while having benefits that are only slightly better than Aetna's $6-per-month plan. However, AARP/UHC may still be the better choice if the medications it covers better match your needs or if your pharmacy is in the plan's preferred network.

Keep in mind that ratings for stand-alone Part D plans differ from the prescription coverage that's included in AARP Medicare Advantage plans, which is well-rated and a good value.

Cigna: Good for cheap plans

  • Overall rating

  • Average monthly cost: $36

Cigna's cheap plans are nearly as good a value as Wellcare's plans and have similar quality ratings.

  • Good policyholder ratings
  • Cheapest plan costs about $13 per month
  • Customers frequently switch to other plans
  • Below-average customer satisfaction for home delivery

Cigna Medicare Part D plans are good for those who are looking for a low-cost policy with good benefits. Consider Cigna if Wellcare's drug list or preferred pharmacies don't work for your needs.

Cigna Part D plans are widely available. You'll get better prices on medications by using Cigna's in-network pharmacies, and the lowest prices are usually available through home delivery from Express Scripts Pharmacy. However, the company's home delivery service is in the bottom third for customer satisfaction, so those getting prescriptions by mail could have more frustrations and delays than with other companies.

Cigna policyholders give high ratings to their plans and their ability to access prescriptions. However, the retention rate is lower than typical, so even though policyholders are happy, they're still switching companies.

Blue Cross Blue Shield / Anthem: Largest network of pharmacies

  • Overall rating

  • Average monthly cost: $82

These expensive plans are well-rated and have a large pharmacy network.

  • Highest overall rating on Medicare.gov
  • Low average deductible
  • May not be a good value
  • Costs and performance vary by location

Prescription drug plans from Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) have a good average rating of 3.5 stars, and it's the only company that offers 4-star plans in some states. However, it has the highest monthly costs of all of the major providers of Part D plans.

Coverage is usually good, and many plans provide features such as additional cost-sharing during the coverage gap and low or $0 copays for generic drugs. There's a very large network that includes most of the pharmacies in the country, and about half of the pharmacies are considered preferred, giving you wide access to discounted rates.

Keep in mind that each BCBS subsidiary operates independently, so where you live has a big impact on whether a Medicare Part D plan from BCBS is a good deal. Plans are more affordably priced in states like Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma and Kansas. On the other hand, typical costs are expensive in Florida, California, North Carolina and Arizona.

Humana: Best for mail-order prescriptions

  • Overall rating

  • Average monthly cost: $51

Humana's mail-order pharmacy, CenterWell, has the highest customer satisfaction for Part D plans.

  • Very low rate of complaints for Part D plans
  • High average deductible of $440
  • Very bad prescription price accuracy on the Medicare.gov plan finder

Humana's plans are a good choice for those who are willing to pay more and don't mind a high deductible in order to access cheap copayments for prescriptions.

For example, the Humana Walmart Value Rx plan costs $33 per month. After meeting a $505 annual deductible, Tier 1 drugs are free and Tier 2 drugs are $1 for a 30-day supply.

Plans have average ratings on Medicare.gov, and there is a very low rate of complaints. Humana also stands out for its good customer satisfaction for its prescription home delivery service. On J.D. Power's annual survey, the Humana Pharmacy (now called CenterWell) has been well-rated for several years and is currently the highest-rated service for stand-alone Part D plans.

However, shoppers should be cautious when using Medicare.gov for comparison shopping because the accuracy of Humana's prescription prices is very poorly rated, receiving just 1 star on a 5-star scale. When shopping, confirm your estimated prescription prices on the Humana website and with the plan documents.


How to choose the best Medicare Part D plan for you

Most people will have about 24 Medicare Part D plans to choose from, and it's not always clear which is the best plan for your prescription medication needs. To help you choose your plan, ask yourself these six questions:

1. How much drug coverage do I need?

Consider how many medications you take regularly and the medications you may need in the coming year. If you have significant pharmacy needs or are managing ongoing illnesses, it may be a better deal to sign up for a more expensive plan that offers better coverage. You can change your plan during open enrollment if you need more or less coverage.

2. Which plan has the best star rating?

The number of stars each plan has on Medicare.gov measures the quality of the plan as well as the experience of being a policyholder.

3. Are the medications I take covered?

Check the plan's list of covered drugs, called the formulary, to learn which medications are covered and how much you might pay based on their classification tier. If your medication is in a higher tier, you could have to spend more out of pocket, and some plans have a separate deductible for Tier 3, 4 or 5 drugs.

4. What's the final cost I'll pay each month?

The monthly cost of the plan, also called the premium, is the base rate of how much the plan costs. For those who have low incomes, there are cost-savings programs such as Extra Help, which can lower your monthly bills and make medication costs more affordable. On the other hand, those who have individual income above $97,000 would pay an additional surcharge on top of the base rate for the Medicare Part D plan.

5. Do I expect very high drug costs?

If you expect to spend more than $7,400 on prescription drugs, choose a plan that has the lowest catastrophic coverage rates. During this catastrophic phase, you'll pay a small percentage of all drug costs. For example, some cancer drugs can cost about $18,000 per month, and paying 2% of costs instead of 5% of costs can save you hundreds of dollars per month.

6. Are my local pharmacies in the preferred network?

Check to see if there are convenient pharmacies near you that are within the insurance company's network.


Frequently asked questions

What's the best prescription drug plan for seniors?

Aetna/SilverScript has the best overall plans for Medicare Part D because of its good ratings, affordable monthly costs and good benefits. Those on a budget should consider Wellcare for low-cost plans that have good coverage for generic prescriptions.

Is Medicare Part D worth it?

A prescription drug plan through Medicare Part D is worth it for most people who do not bundle their drug coverage into a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Part D makes prescription drugs more affordable, and basic coverage could be available for as little as $5 or $10 per month. Those who have a low income can get a reduced rate for Medicare Part D plans.

What drugs are covered by Medicare Part D?

The list of covered drugs is determined by each insurance provider in what's known as a drug formulary. All companies are required to cover at least two medications for each type of health treatment, but the specific medications vary. The list will also determine each drug's tier and how much you'll pay. Tier 1 drugs are low-cost generics, and Tier 5 drugs are expensive or specialty medications.

How much does Medicare Part D cost?

A Medicare Part D plan costs an average of $49 per month for 2023. However, the amount you pay will vary based on the plan you choose and any income-based adjustments such as low-income discounts.

How do you sign up for Medicare Part D?

You can sign up for a Medicare prescription drug plan through Medicare.gov. The online tool will guide you through the plans that are available in your area, how well they're rated and your total annual medication costs. You're first eligible for Medicare Part D during the seven-month period around your 65th birthday, including your birthday month and the three months before and after. If you don't enroll in Medicare Part D during this initial enrollment period, you'll have to pay a late enrollment fee.

Methodology and sources

Comparisons of Medicare Part D plans are based on average star ratings, monthly premiums, deductible amounts and policy details.

Averages were calculated based on insurance provider, and data was sourced from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare Part D performance data and Medicare Part D plan and premium data. Blue Cross Blue Shield calculations include Anthem and other subsidiary companies. Averages are based on plans in 50 states and Washington, D.C., excluding U.S. territories.

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Invitations for application for insurance may be made through QW Insurance Solutions, LLC ("QWIS"), a subsidiary of QuoteWizard.com, LLC ("QuoteWizard"), a LendingTree subsidiary, or through its designated agents, only where licensed and appointed. Licensing information for QWIS can be found here. QWIS is a non-government licensed health insurance agency. Not affiliated with or endorsed by any government agency.

Callers to QWIS will be directed to a licensed and certified representative of Medicare Supplement insurance and/or Medicare Advantage HMO, HMO SNP, PPO, PPO SNP and PFFS organizations. Calls to QWIS will be routed to a licensed agent who can provide you with further information about the insurance plans offered by one or more third-party partners of QWIS. Each of the organizations they represent has a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any plan depends on contract renewal.

Availability of benefits and plans varies by carrier and location and may be limited to certain times of the year unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. QWIS does not offer every plan available in your area. Any information provided is limited to those plans offered in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.

Deductibles, copays, coinsurance, limitations, and exclusions may apply.

Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed the information contained on this website.

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