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Xanax is one of the most prescribed medications for mental health conditions in the United States, and many Medicare beneficiaries take it. In fact, a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the average age of an adult receiving a new Xanax prescription was 78.4.
If you’re among the millions of Americans prescribed Xanax, Medicare can help you cover the cost through Part D and Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare members who take the generic form of Xanax, alprazolam, can often get their prescriptions filled at a very low cost to them. And some plans might even offer generic medications, including alprazolam, at no cost to members.
Read on to learn more.
Xanax belongs to a class of medications known as benzodiazepines. When Medicare first started covering prescription drugs under Part D, any prescription medications classed as a barbiturate or benzodiazepine weren’t included in that coverage.
Beginning in 2013, though, new regulations allowed Medicare to cover both barbiturates and benzodiazepines. This includes coverage for Xanax.
In fact, as of 2020, almost all Medicare plans that include prescription coverage cover Xanax.
Your coverage for Xanax depends on eligibility factors, if any, under each part of Medicare.
Medicare Part A is hospital insurance, so it does not cover prescriptions. Part A only covers your inpatient stays in places like hospitals or skilled nursing facilities.
If you were given Xanax during an inpatient stay, however, Part A would cover it.
Medicare Part B is medical insurance. Like Part A, it does not cover prescriptions. Part B is for services like:
So, Part B does not offer any coverage for your prescriptions.
You can get coverage for Xanax with a Medicare Advantage plan if your plan also includes Part D (prescription drug) coverage. Advantage plans that include Part D are referred to as MAPD plans and are a very common plan type.
Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage, so it’s the primary source for Medicare Xanax coverage.
But it’s important to know that Part D covers only prescription drugs. This means you’ll need to use a Part D plan alongside original Medicare (parts A and B together) or an Advantage plan that doesn’t include Part D.
Medigap plans help cover the out-of-pocket costs of Medicare, like copayments and deductibles. These plans do not offer any additional prescription drug coverage.
So if you want Medicare to cover your Xanax prescription, you’ll need to have a Medicare Advantage or a Medicare Part D plan.
All insurance plans that cover prescription medications use a list called a formulary. The formulary lists the specific prescription drugs that the plan will cover. Formularies include:
You can check the formulary of an Advantage plan or Part D plan before you buy it. When you check the formulary, make sure it includes Xanax and any other prescription medications you take.
When you use the plan finder tool on the Medicare website, you can enter any prescription medications you currently take before searching.
The tool will then show you only plans with formularies that include your prescriptions. It will also show you the estimated cost of those prescriptions for each matching plan.
How much you pay for Xanax will depend on more than just your Medicare coverage.
You’ll also need to consider the pharmacy that you use and any discounts you might be eligible for. Plus, you’ll need to note whether your prescription is for the brand name (Xanax) or whether you can take the generic form (alprazolam).
Taking the generic form can save you money. Plus, your Medicare Advantage or Part D plan’s formulary is much more likely to cover it than the brand name.
Prices can depend on where you live and the dosage you take.
As you can see from the example, the biggest price difference is between the name brand and the generic version.
You’ll generally be able to take the generic unless your doctor has specified a reason you cannot. Often, your pharmacist will automatically give you a generic form of a prescription. They also might call your doctor to check if the generic can be used.
Taking generic alprazolam and using Medicare coverage is an affordable way to get your Xanax prescription.
If you do not have Medicare Advantage or a Part D plan, taking advantage of pharmacy and store coupons for alprazolam can also greatly reduce your costs. Pharmacy discounts are generally only for the cash price, so you can’t use them together with your Medicare plan. To better understand how discounts that you may be eligible for work, talk with your pharmacist.
You might also consider using a mail-order pharmacy. You can save time and money this way — you will not have to make trips to the pharmacy and costs are often much lower.
Xanax is used to help manage anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. It interacts with your central nervous system to have an overall calming effect.
You can take Xanax in liquid or pill form. Your dosage can vary depending on how your body responds to the medication. People commonly take a 0.25-mg dose two or three times per day. Your dosage might be lowered or raised until you and your doctor find the amount that works best for you.
Xanax is part of a class of medications known as benzodiazepines. Medications in this class are considered controlled substances because they have the potential to be very addictive and are sometimes misused.
You need a prescription to get any benzodiazepines, including Xanax, and you’ll need to be careful to take only the dosage prescribed to you.
Other benzodiazepines you might be prescribed for anxiety or panic disorder include:
If Xanax does not work for you or if you experience side effects, your doctor might have you try another benzodiazepine.
Last medically reviewed on September 15, 2021