Medicare Part D Coverage Gap

The Medicare Part D prescription drug program consists of four stages: deductible, initial coverage, coverage gap and catastrophic coverage. Your cost for a drug depends on which stage you are in at the time you get your prescription filled or refilled. It is important to understand the coverage gap because you pay for a larger portion of your drug costs during this stage.

View 2024 Medicare Part D Benefit PhasesOpen a PDF to see how your medication cost may be impacted.

Please note: Some plans may have an annual Part D deductible. If you have a deductible, you will pay the full cost of your Part D medications until your plan deductible is met and you enter the Initial Coverage stage.

These amounts may change on January 1 of each year. This chart reflects dollar amounts for 2024.


You Pay We Pay Description

Initial Coverage

Copayment or Coinsurance

Remaining Cost


  • When you are in the Initial Coverage stage, you simply pay your copay or coinsurance for your covered medication. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield pays the rest of your medication costs.
  • You generally stay in this payment stage until the amount of your year-to-date total drug costs (what you pay plus what Excellus BlueCross BlueShield pays) reaches $5,030.
  • You will then enter what is called the "Coverage Gap."

Coverage Gap

25% of the cost for generic and brand name medications

Partial cost for generic and brand medications

When you are in the Coverage Gap, you receive limited coverage by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and a discount on brand name medications.

  • You will pay 25% of the cost for all your covered generic medications. The 75% savings you receive for Generics does not count towards your true out-of-pocket costs.
  • You will pay only 25% at the pharmacy for your covered brand-name medications. The total cost of the medication (before the discount) applies toward your true out-of-pocket costs.
  • You generally stay in this stage until your true year-to-date out-of-pocket costs reach $8,000. You will then enter the Catastrophic Coverage stage.

Catastrophic Coverage

$0 for generic and brand drugs.

Remaining cost


  • During this payment stage, you pay $0 for generic and brand drugs. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield pays the remainder of the drug cost.
  • Once you are in this payment stage, you generally stay in it for the rest of the calendar year (through December 31).

How can you avoid reaching the coverage gap?

Using generic medications is the easiest way to avoid reaching the coverage gap. Generics have the lowest copay. Talk to your doctor and/or your pharmacist about using generics.

Want more information?

Refer to your Evidence of Coverage (EOC) for your specific deductible, copayment or coinsurance amounts.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is an HMO plan and PPO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Excellus BlueCross BlueShield depends on contract renewal. Submit a complaint about your Medicare plan at or learn about filing a complaint by contacting the Medicare Ombudsman. Y0028_9775_C.

This page last updated 10-01-2023.


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