Prescription Drug Costs Among Top Concerns for Medicare Beneficiaries

Prescription drug costs are among the top concerns for more than one-third of Medicare Part D beneficiaries, with one in five admitting they’ve had to delay filling a prescription or skip doses to help manage medication costs, according to a new Walgreens survey.

While the majority of beneficiaries (77 percent) surveyed said they have a clear understanding of their plan benefits, only half realize that co-pays for Part D prescriptions can vary by pharmacy; for instance, some plans feature preferred pharmacy networks that offer lower co-pays. More than 31.5 million people were enrolled in Part D1, Medicare’s prescription drug benefit program, in 2012, according to the CMS.

Also, nearly 30 percent don’t know that they can switch pharmacies at any time, believing that it can only be done during Medicare’s open enrollment period. And nearly 60 percent said if they could change one thing about their Part D plan, it would be lower costs and co-pays.

Survey interviews were conducted by telephone between April 8 and April 15, 2013. In all, 1,000 U.S. Medicare Part D beneficiaries, age 65 and older, were interviewed.

Key findings include the following:

  • Only 21 percent of respondents were using a pharmacy within their plan’s preferred network as a way to save, and 24 percent are unaware of whether their plan offers a preferred pharmacy option. Beneficiaries can save hundreds of dollars each year on co-pay costs by using a preferred network pharmacy offered by the Part D plan.
  • Those surveyed get an average of eight prescriptions each week and spend an average of $58 per month on their co-pays, with nearly two in 10 (17 percent) paying over $100.
  • More than half (55 percent) of the seniors surveyed say they would switch pharmacies if it meant savings on prescription drug costs.
  • Seven in 10 (72 percent) have switched to generic medications, and 4 in 10 (44 percent) are filling more 90-day prescriptions in an effort to save.
  • Only 15 percent of those surveyed were able to correctly identify the major components of national Part D prescription plans.
  • Only hospital/emergency room costs (40 percent) and caregiver/assisted living expenses (38 percent) are a greater concern for respondents than prescription drug costs (37 percent).

Among the ways beneficiaries can save on prescription drug costs are by reviewing their plans, talking to their pharmacist, and comparing co-pay and other costs against their current plan and pharmacy, Walgreens’ officials note.

This survey was part of Walgreens’ You’re Worth Savings initiative, which aims to educate Medicare beneficiaries about cost-saving opportunities and how to get the most from their prescription drug plan.

Source: Walgreens, May 7, 2013

2013 Healthcare Benchmarks: Improving Medication Adherence

2013 Healthcare Benchmarks: Improving Medication Adherence provides actionable information from more than 100 healthcare organizations on efforts to improve medication adherence and compliance in their populations, and documents the impact of these programs on adherence and compliance levels, medication costs, ER visits, hospital and skilled nursing facility admissions, risk of death, and other areas of concern.

This entry was posted in Healthcare Costs, Healthcare Law, Healthcare Reform, Improving Community Care, Improving Patient Care, Prescription Drugs, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.
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