Great ways to help keep prescription drug costs down
Keeping prescription costs down is an important issue for Medicare Advantage members. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 9 in 10 adults 65 and older take a prescription medication, and more than half take four or more. Those costs can add up quickly, leading many people to skip filling their medications.1
Ready to start saving? Get started with these helpful tips.
Take medications covered by a Medicare prescription drug plan
It all starts at the provider’s office and coming prepared for the visit. If a health care provider prescribes medications, ask if it’s on your plan’s formulary (drug list). It’s smart for Medicare members to bring a copy of their prescription coverage plan to the appointment so the provider can check. The formulary can also be found on the health plan’s website.
When a medication isn’t on the drug formulary, there is often another medication that treats the same Part D covered condition. Drugs covered on the plan’s formulary typically cost a member less than drugs that are not on it. If the medication recommended by your provider is not covered by your prescription drug plan, be sure and ask your provider if there’s a suitable alternative that is covered.
Ask about generics
If a provider recommends a brand-name medication, ask if there is a generic alternative available. It’s a move that could save Medicare members money. And the savings can be significant, an estimated 85% less for generics compared to the brand-name drug.2 if a generic version of a brand-name drug isn’t available, ask if another generic that treats the same medical condition could be substituted.
And rest assured, generic drugs can be just as effective as the brand-name version. The Food and Drug Administration requires generic drugs work in the same way and provide the same clinical benefit as the brand-name drug.2
Conduct a yearly medication review
It’s important for Medicare members to review their medications with a provider or pharmacist at least once a year. One way to do this is by bringing all medications—including any vitamins, herbals, dietary supplements, or over-the-counter remedies—to an appointment with a provider.
When reviewing medications with a provider, ask about potentially harmful drug interactions, possible side effects, and correct dosages. Consider asking about specific times to take drugs, if they should be taken with food, and if they are all still medically necessary.
Also, don’t forget to bring your plan’s formulary to the appointment. Drug prices can change, and new drugs come on to the market, so it’s worth talking to a provider about any alternative medications that might be appropriate for you.
If you are a member of a Medicare prescription drug plan you may be eligible for a no cost comprehensive medication review with one of the plan’s pharmacists. The Medicare Advantage plan will contact you if you qualify for the review.
Use an in-network pharmacy
An in-network pharmacy helps members take full advantage of their prescription drug benefits. In-network pharmacies have agreements with health plans that set prices for medications, which are generally less than the pharmacy’s retail price. Members may pay the full retail price for their prescriptions if they use an out-of-network pharmacy.
Use your pharmacist as a resource
Pharmacists can offer so much more than prescription refills. They can share important information about medications and may be able to advise people on how to help reduce their drug costs. When it comes time to fill a prescription, always ask the pharmacist if there is a more affordable brand-name or generic available.
Consider 3-month supplies
Medicare Advantage plan members with prescription drug coverage may be eligible to receive a 3-month supply of everyday prescriptions for the same amount as three one-month prescriptions.3 An added bonus is you may be able to get the 3-month supply through a home delivery program. No need to go to a drugstore because the medications will be delivered to your door — and may even be cheaper too.