​2019 Medicare-Eligible Retiree Prescription Drug Coverage Change
Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are all State retirees losing prescription drug coverage?


No, only retirees who are Medicare-eligible and enrolled in the retiree prescription drug coverage are losing this coverage on January 1, 2019.  Non-Medicare eligible retirees will continue to be eligible for the same retiree prescription coverage in which they are currently enrolled.​

2. Are my enrolled spouse and children also losing prescription coverage?


​If your spouse and/or children are Medicare-eligible, they too will lose prescription coverage on January 1, 2019.  However, if they are not yet Medicare-eligible they may remain covered under the State prescription plan until they either become eligible for Medicare due to reaching age 65 or due to disability, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements of the plan​.

3. How will I pay for my dependent’s continued prescription coverage when I am no longer enrolled?


​You will pay for your dependent’s prescription coverage the same way you are now.  If the premium is deducted from your pension check, it will continue to be paid that way.  If you pay for your prescription coverage using a coupon (mailed to you by the Employee Benefits Division) you will continue to pay that way.  The rates will be provided in your Open Enrollment packet that will be mailed to your home in late September.​

4. Am I also losing my medical coverage?


​No, the only plan that is ending is the Employer Group Waiver Plan (EGWP) through CVS Caremark’s Silver Script program.  This is the retiree prescription plan that you are currently enrolled in that wraps around the standard Medicare Part D plan.​

5. Why Is This Happening?


​In 2011, the Maryland General Assembly passed pension reform legislation (House Bill 72 - 2011 Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act) that included the end of prescription drug coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees as of July 1, 2019.  The July 1, 2019 date was selected because the federal government was to close the coverage gap, also known as the “doughnut hole,” in Medicare Part D plans around that time.  By waiting until the coverage gap was reduced, retirees would not have to pay the high costs for medications that currently exists in the coverage gap.​

6. Why Is This Happening Now?


​​The U.S. Congress, in the recently passed federal budget, moved up the date for the reduction of the coverage gap to January 1, 2019, earlier than previously planned.  

That federal action prompted the Maryland General Assembly on March 27, 2018 to amend and pass legislation (SB 187 – 2018 Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act) that then moved up the end of State prescription drug coverage for its Medicare-eligible retirees to coincide with the new date of January 1, 2019.  

7. Is the State going to enroll me in an individual Medicare Part D plan?

No, the coverage you have with the State ends 12/31/18. That plan takes our group retiree drug plan and wraps it around a Medicare Part D plan. Both components end 12/31/18, which is why you have to enroll in a new Part D plan for 1/1/19. There will be no prescription drug plan available to you as a State retiree after that date.

8. When can I enroll in a new Medicare Part D plan?

You can enroll in Medicare Part D during Medicare’s open season that runs from October 15, 2018 through December 7, 2018. If you enroll during this time your coverage will begin January 1, 2019.  If you do not enroll during this time, you will not have prescription coverage on January 1, 2019 and will have to pay the full cost of your prescriptions.​

9. Can I enroll in Medicare Part D sooner?


​Yes, you can enroll in Medicare Part D earlier than January 1, 2019, but you will have to be disenrolled from the State plan at that time – you cannot be enrolled in two Medicare Part D plans at the same time.  Additionally, if you disenroll from the State plan, any enrolled dependents will also be disenrolled and would have to re-enroll during the State’s Open Enrollment (held in the fall) to have coverage again under the State plan on January 1, 2019.​

10. Where can I find help?

The Employee Benefits Division will be providing detailed information on the steps you need to take to make sure you have prescription coverage on January 1, 2019.  Several post cards and letters will be mailed to your home beginning in May 2018 and continuing through the end of the year. 

We have also provided Additional Resources​ for you on our website. ​

11. What is EGWP?


​EGWP is the Employer Group Waiver Plan implemented in 2014 under Program benefits.  It is the State retiree drug plan wrapped around the Standard Medicare Part D plan.  This plan is ending December 31, 2018.​

12. What is Medicare Part D?


​Medicare Part D is the outpatient prescription drug coverage for Medicare eligible individuals.  It is purchased separately from Medicare Parts A and B, the hospital and physician coverage, respectively, through Medicare.​

13. Will retirees have to actively cancel or drop their State coverage as of 12/31/18 or will it be automatic?

Your prescription coverage through the Program will be automatically ended on 12/31/18.​

14. Was my coverage through the State creditable coverage?


​Yes, your retiree prescription drug coverage is considered creditable.  That means if you enroll in a new Part D plan for January 1, 2019, you will not be charged a late enrollment penalty.​

15. Can I pay my Part D premium the same way as my Part B premium - from my Social Security check?

You can choose when you sign up for a Part D plan whether to be billed directly by the plan or have the premium deducted from your Social Security check.  But you arrange this through your Part D plan insurance company, not Social Security.​

16. If I am a retiree and my spouse or child is under 65, but on Medicare due to a disability, will he/she lose prescription coverage?


Yes, enrolled spouses and/or children eligible for Medicare due to disability, will also lose State prescription coverage on January 1, 2019.  They should begin reviewing what prescription drug options are available to them.  Please see the resources available in the May 15th and June 13th letters as well as this website.  

Note: this does not apply to employees who may have Medicare-eligible dependents.

NEW 17. How many different Medicare plans are there?


​People have heard different numbers.​  There are literally dozens.  We encourage retirees to begin reviewing what is on the Medicare website now so they will be ready to enroll during Medicare's Open Season that begins October 15th.​​

NEW 18. If a person continues to work for the State past age 65, must they go on the Medicare plan or can they stay on the State prescription plan?


​Active employees who reach and exceed age 65 do not have to enroll in Medicare while still actively working.  They do need to enroll in Medicare immediately when they retire, however.​​

Check back frequently as this list will be updated as additional questions and answers are added.