Talk to a pharmacist about ways to save on Part D

Seniors are concerned about prescription costs -- and one in five may be going without their prescribed doses to save money. Comparing pharmacies and consulting the experts for help may help stretch co-pays. (submitted photo)

The complexities of health care reform, an aging population and a higher incidence of chronic disease have created a growing need to help seniors enrolled in Medicare understand their benefits while managing health care expenditures.

One area of concern to them is Part D, Medicare’s prescription drug benefit program, where according to The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, more than 31.5 million people were enrolled in 2012. 

A recent survey examining seniors’ understanding of Part D plans and health behaviors shows that more than one-third of those surveyed  -- 37 percent -- acknowledged daily concerns about their prescription drug costs.

One in five surveyed said they’ve had to make sacrifices, such as delaying filling a prescription or skipping doses, to help manage medication costs.

“It’s important for everyone to be able to afford the prescriptions they need, and with recent changes to Medicare and other programs under health care reform, it’s critical for beneficiaries to fully understand their options and ways to make their health care dollars go further,” said Dan Luce, director of pharmacy affairs for Walgreens. “If cost is preventing some patients from taking medicine as prescribed, as the survey shows, it’s always a concern because skipping doses or not refilling prescriptions can be a significant and costly barrier in treating illness. This underscores the need to educate Part D beneficiaries about how they can save on prescription and other health care costs.”

There are some simple steps that Medicare Part D beneficiaries can take to potentially save on prescription drug costs:

• Review your Medicare Part D plan. It is important to review your plan to make sure you’re taking full advantage of all the benefits offered.  Ask your local pharmacy staff to review the plan with you and suggest any potential areas to save.

• Talk to a pharmacist about cost concerns and ways you might be able to save. Switching to generic medications is just one simple way to save money. Also ask your physician if there is a 90-day medication supply option for any of your prescriptions instead of purchasing a refill each month.  

• Compare co-pay and other costs against your current plan and pharmacy and use a “preferred network” pharmacy if one is offered by your Part D plan. Some patients find savings of up to 75 percent when comparing Tier 1 co-pays on prescriptions when they change to a “preferred” pharmacy.

Check your Part D coverage and call your local pharmacy to sit down with a pharmacist to discuss ways you can save.

-- Family Features

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