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The 2021 Doughnut Hole for Medicare Part D Explained

Most plans with Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) have a coverage gap –referred to as a "donut hole.” This means that after you and your drug plan have spent a certain amount of money for covered drugs, you have to pay all costs out-of-pocket for your prescriptions up to a yearly limit. Once you have spent up to the yearly limit, your coverage gap ends, and your drug plan helps pay for covered drugs again.

For 2021, the coverage gap begins when the total amount your plan has paid for your drugs reaches $4,130 (up from $4,020 in 2020). At that point, you’re in the doughnut hole, where you’ll now receive a 75% discount on both brand-name and generic drugs. Prescription drug manufacturers pick up 70% of that tab and insurers 5%. 

You pay the remaining 25%. Catastrophic coverage, with the government picking up most costs, begins when a patient's out-of-pocket costs reach $6,550, the maximum spending limit for beneficiaries in 2021, which is $200 higher than 2020’s cap. Any deductible paid before you entered the doughnut hole counts toward that annual maximum as does the 25% you contributed while in the doughnut hole and the 70% that pharmaceutical companies paid on your behalf.

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