Synthroid is the brand name for levothyroxine, a medication to treat hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is the underproduction of thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland is located near the larynx, and its shape resembles a butterfly. It plays a crucial role in the biological functions of the human body, producing hormones that regulate oxygen usage, metabolism, growth and development. Levothyroxine is classified as a hormone according to Medline Plus, an online resource of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to serious conditions, such as myxedema coma, which is a rare but potentially fatal condition. Minor thyroid disorders, such as a small goiter, may not require treatment. Patients should report to their doctor any of the following side effects that become severe or persistent: Weight gain or loss, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, appetite changes, fever, heat sensitivity, hair loss, joint pain and leg cramps.

Drug plan formulary

Levothyroxine is covered by most Medicare plans. Medicare-approved drug plans establish a formulary, which is a tiered list of drugs covered. Medicare recipients can check their plan’s formulary to confirm inclusion of any medications prescribed or projected to be prescribed in the near future. As a generic formula, levothyroxine would most likely be in the first tier. Search for brand names, such as Synthroid, in the higher tiers. If you are interested in other brand-name pharmaceutics considered comparable to levothyroxine, look for Levothroid, Levoxyl, Tirosint, Levo-T and Unithroid.

Products not covered by Medicare benefits
CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) publishes a table, available online, of specific products and categories of drugs to clarify Medicare benefits under Part D, albeit with the caveat that it is not an exhaustive list. According to this list, Part D does not cover drugs used for anorexia, the common cold, cosmetic use, hair growth, weight loss or weight gain. It also excludes barbiturates, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, electrolytes, saline flushes, vitamins, mineral products, smoking cessation drugs, and blood glucose testing strips not directly associated with insulin injections.

Enrollment timing for Part D Medicare benefits
The best time for Medicare recipients to enroll is when they first become eligible. This is referred to as the initial enrollment period. It is best to avoid a gap in creditable prescription drug coverage; otherwise, a late enrollment penalty may apply. Medicare offers an opportunity to join, change or terminate a drug plan every year between October 15 and December 7 during the Annual Election Period. If your request is submitted by December 7, changes will be effective as of January 1 of the following year. Some people have drug coverage incorporated into a Medicare Advantage plan, otherwise known as Part C. The annual open enrollment window for Part C is January 1 to March 31.

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