Bay State residents age 50 and older continue to be affected by prescription drug sticker shock, with the majority reporting major problems paying for their medication, according to a new AARP survey. While AARP continues to fight at both the state and federal level to lower prescription drug costs, resources are available to help Massachusetts residents get the medicine they need at a price they can afford.
“As the prices of brand name prescriptions widely used by people in Medicare continue to soar, it’s more important than ever for older residents and their families to tap into the resources that are available – both online and in the community – to help them get the medicine they need to stay healthy, and out of more expensive care,” says Deborah Banda, state director of AARP Massachusetts, which represents more than 800,000 members age 50 and older in the Bay State.
As reported in this month’s AARP Bulletin, many in Massachusetts count on Prescription Advantage to help pay for their medicine; currently the program helps about 60,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the state. While Prescription Advantage continues to face state budget cuts, the federal health care law is kicking in to keep the program stable by closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap, known as the “doughnut hole,” in phases over the next nine years.
Rx Resources available to Massachusetts residents include:
Prescription Advantage Prescription Advantage is the state’s pharmacy assistance program that works in tandem with Medicare. The program is available to all Massachusetts residents age 65 and older, as well as younger individuals with disabilities who meet income and employment guidelines. Visit www.mass.gov or call 1-800-243-4636.
AARP Drug Savings Tool Visit http://drugsavings.aarp.org/ to review your drug’s price range and efficacy and compare it to Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs. Print out your options for discussion with your doctor. AARP Doughnut Hole Calculator If you have Medicare Part D, you may be at risk of falling into the coverage gap, or “doughnut hole.” Follow this four-step tool at http://doughnuthole.aarp.org/ and save money.
Mass Medline Mass Medline is a free, confidential service available to all Massachusetts residents who are seeking information regarding their medications. Whether you are having difficulties affording your medications or want to know what the side effects are to your prescriptions, you can speak to pharmacists and case managers one-on-one to receive personal assistance with answering your pharmacy related questions or finding programs to help with the cost of your medications. Visit http://www.massmedline.com/ or call 1-866-633-1617.
SHINE (Serving the Health Needs of Elders) SHINE counselors help older residents and Medicare beneficiaries understand their rights and benefits under Medicare and other health insurance coverage. Counselors can identify and compare current options and protect clients from paying too much for their medical care. SHINE counselors are available at most councils on aging, senior centers and Aging Services Access Points, hospitals and libraries. Counselors are also available for homebound clients. Visit www.medicareoutreach.org or call 800-243-4636.