Tips offered to save on prescription drugs

Tips offered to save on prescription drugs

The prolonged recovery of the economy has forced all Americans to re-evaluate their personal and household budgets and scrutinize their spending habits to find much-needed opportunities to pinch pennies.

For Medicare beneficiaries on a fixed income, finding cost savings can be even more critical to ensure that their necessary health care expenditures will fit in their budget.

For most adults over the age of 65, prescription medications are one of those necessary expenditures. Fortunately, beneficiaries can take advantage of new savings at the pharmacy counter next year. In 2012, those enrolled in a Medicare prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with drug coverage who hit the coverage gap, commonly referred to as the “doughnut hole,” will pay 50 percent of the price of brand-name drugs and 86 percent of the price of generic drugs.

Beneficiaries may pay even less if their plan has more coverage in the gap. These discounts gradually will increase each year until the coverage gap is closed in 2020.

Whether they’re evaluating their current prescription drug coverage during the annual election period — Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 — or are new to Medicare and enrolling in a prescription drug plan for the first time, beneficiaries can save even more money at the pharmacy counter by being mindful of a few additional tips as they compare Part D plans or Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage to find one that best suits their health and financial needs for 2012.

• Look at the plan’s overall cost. It’s easy to focus only on your monthly premium when you compare plans, but you also should look at your other plan expenses like annual deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance.

• Review the drug formulary. Are the medications you take included on the formulary, or approved drug list, without a prior authorization or step therapy requirement? If not, they may not be covered under the plan, and you may have to pay for them out of your pocket.

• Consider the plan’s network of pharmacies. Will the plan’s network of pharmacies make it convenient for you to access your medications? Some plans require that you visit certain “preferred” pharmacies to access your drugs at the lowest cost. Find out if the plan offers a mail-order option, which may reduce your co-pay costs and make it more convenient to get your drugs.


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