- Written by Jessica Riel
- Published: 22 January 2017
Prescription costs are going up. Older adults may feel they have to choose between paying for important medications and buying groceries, heating their homes, or affording other necessities, which could place their health at risk. If you have a Medicare prescription drug plan, you may be able to reduce your out of-pocket costs with a little knowledge. Do you know if you’re getting the most out of your pharmacy benefits?
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging has partnered with Walgreens to offer “Answers on Aging Pharmacy Benefits” during Pharmacy Benefits Week, January 30 to February 3, 2017. Here are some tips from the campaign:
- Know your pharmacy network.
- Most prescription drug plans have a preferred pharmacy. You will likely pay less by filling your medications at a preferred pharmacy if your plan offers that option. Check your Medicare Part D plan to see if your pharmacy is on their preferred pharmacy list. If a preferred pharmacy is available to you, it may provide savings and be worth the change.
- If not, be certain to choose a pharmacy that is in-network for cost savings.
- Know your medications.
- Every prescription drug plan has a list of covered drugs called a formulary. That list is divided into “tiers,” which vary by plan. Typically, you will pay less when you fill your prescriptions from the lower tiers and when you choose “preferred” drugs.
- What is the formulary tier for each of your medications? Can you save money with a different tier? Each plan has different drug formularies and costs—tier 1 being the least expensive. Ask your doctor if your plan’s tier 1 formulary will meet your needs.
- Ask your doctor and pharmacist if you can lower your pharmacy costs by filling a:
- Generic alternative.
- Lower-cost brand alternative.
- 90-day supply instead of 30-day.
- Know your situation.
- Evaluate changes in your health and prescription needs during the Medicare Open Enrollment period from October 15 to December 7.
- Does your plan offer savings on over-the-counter (OTC) medications?
- Ask your doctor and pharmacist about ways you can reduce your medication costs.
For more help understanding your prescription drug options and other questions pertaining to Medicare, contact the SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) program at LifePath for free, confidential, and unbiased health insurance counseling. To reach a trained and certified counselor in your area, contact the regional office at 1-800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555. Learn more about SHINE online.