Managing Your Prescription Drug Costs
Out-of-pocket medical costs often surprise retirees, who previously assumed Medicare would cover everything they would need. But in particular, it’s the cost of prescription drugs that dismays so many. Unfortunately, inflation often seems to impact the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries more than many others.
The Office of Health Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released a report that underscores the difficulty faced by many older Americans. According to the report, 3.5 million seniors frequently struggled to afford their prescriptions in 2019. Some even reported that they skip doses of necessary medications due to the high cost. The report noted: “The high cost and out-of-pocket expenses of drugs cause many Americans — particularly those with chronic conditions such as diabetes — to delay or skip taking needed treatments.”
The report also illuminated some other alarming, if not completely surprising, facts:
- Black and latino Medicare recipients over the age of 65 are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to experience difficulty affording prescriptions
- Gender also impacts affordability; 7.8 percent of women and 5.2 percent of men report problems affording their medications
- Among over-65 Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes, 9.9 percent report problems with affording their prescriptions, compared to 6.6 percent of the general over-65 population
- 11 percent of beneficiaries below 200 percent of the poverty level report problems with affording medications, compared with 4.7 percent of those above that income level
These facts probably don’t surprise you, but what you can do about the cost of prescription drugs? Investigate your Medicare Part D options. A Part D plan can help you to manage your out-of-pocket expenses with regard to necessary prescription medications. But simply enrolling in a plan is not enough; familiarize yourself with the plan’s formulary, and evaluate it for changes each year during the Annual Election Period. Formularies can and do change each year, and you want to be sure that your plan still covers the medications you need. On the same note, reevaluate your Part D plan any time your prescription needs change.
And just because a plan works great for your spouse, does not mean it will work well for you! You are individuals with your own medical needs, so you each need a Medicare plan that works for you. Consult with our licensed insurance brokers, and we can you determine your top priorities with regard to a Medicare plan (or plans), and then help you shop for a plan or plans that suit those needs.