Understanding the Medicare Donut Hole and How to Save Money

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We understand the complexity of Medicare and the beneficiaries of the struggle face when it comes to out-of-pocket expenses. In this article, we aim to help you understand the Medicare Donut Hole, also known as the Coverage Gap, and provide tips on how to save money on prescription drugs.

What is the Medicare Donut Hole?

The Medicare Donut Hole is a coverage gap in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Once you and your plan have spent a certain amount on covered prescription drugs, you enter the Donut Hole. At this point, you are responsible for a larger portion of your prescription drug costs until you reach catastrophic coverage.

How does the Medicare Donut Hole work?

In 2023, once you and your plan have spent $4,430 on covered drugs, you will enter the Donut Hole. During this period, you will be responsible for paying 25% of the cost of your prescription drugs. However, this amount can vary depending on the type of drug and the plan you have. Once your out-of-pocket spending reaches $7,050, you will enter catastrophic coverage, and you will pay a small coinsurance or copayment for the rest of the year.

How to save money on prescription drugs during the Medicare Donut Hole?

There are several ways to save money during the Donut Hole:

  1. Ask your doctor to prescribe lower-cost alternatives to your current medications.
  2. Use generic drugs instead of brand-name drugs, which are often more expensive.
  3. Consider using a mail-order pharmacy, which can often provide drugs at a lower cost.
  4. Look into patient assistance programs, which can provide discounts or free medications to those who qualify.

It’s important to note that not all prescription drugs count towards your Medicare Part D plan’s initial coverage limit. Some drugs, such as over-the-counter medications and those prescribed for off-label use, are not covered. Be sure to check with your plan to understand what medications are included.


Medicare Donut Hole can be a difficult and expensive period for beneficiaries. However, by understanding how it works and taking advantage of cost-saving strategies, you can save money on prescription drugs and make this time more manageable.


  • The Medicare Donut Hole is a coverage gap in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.
  • Beneficiaries are responsible for a larger portion of their prescription drug costs during this period.
  • To save money during the Donut Hole, consider using lower-cost alternatives, generic drugs, mail-order pharmacies, and patient assistance programs.

Helpful URLs:

  1. https://www.medicare.gov/drug-coverage-part-d/costs-for-medicare-drug-coverage/part-d-coverage-gap (Medicare.gov – Costs for Medicare Drug Coverage)
  2. https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-2018/prescription-drug-coverage-part-d-fd.html (AARP – Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage)
  3. https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/the-medicare-prescription-drug-benefit-fact-sheet/ (KFF – The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Fact Sheet)

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