Coping with rising drug prices

As some may be aware, New York State is essentially broke. As a result, they’ve made financial cuts to programs across the board. One such cut was to the NY EPIC program, a drug supplement for senior citizens. I feel this is an example of cutting your nose off despite your face or stepping over a buck to save a nickel.

Currently, EPIC reduces out of pocket expenses on prescription drugs for patients over 65. Seniors use a primary insurance, typically Medicare D. The primary insurance will charge them a flat rate (co-pay) or a percentage (co-insurance) for their drugs. EPIC reduces this amount due to no more than $20. Medications are affordable; everyone is happy.

Next year, EPIC will not give this benefit. As a result, out of pocket expenses for most seniors will rise, dramatically at times, for most of the year. What happens when medicines or healthcare costs too much? Study after study has shows patients choose to not take their medicine.

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So, out of pocket expenses rise because of a short-sighted budgetary move and as a result more patients get sick, needing more expensive and resource intensive care.

There is a way to avoid this pending disaster. Do something. We have held two educational sessions, one in Saugerties and another in Woodstock, teaching patients and their families the ins and outs of Medicare and how to brace for this upcoming change. We are encouraging people to attend, talk to someone, ask questions, DO something.

Your costs are going up next year if you use EPIC.

The funny thing is we are now encouraging more people to join EPIC. Though they will not help with direct prescription costs, EPIC is now free for all patients 65 and up who meet income requirements. This gets you three major bonuses. The first, you get a “Get out of jail free” card. If you don’t like your Medicare D plan and have EPIC, you can change plans once before open enrollment. Second, EPIC will pay $40 towards your Medicare D premium. Third, EPIC will help next year with out of pocket expenses in the donut hole only.

The bottom line: EPIC is still beneficial, but less than last year. You MUST do something to prepare or prevent the increase in expenses. If you’re not in EPIC now, sign up – and tell friends and family to do the same.

Besides the two educational sessions, held Thursday Oct. 14 at the Saugerties Village Apothecary from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and Woodstock Apothecary the following night at the same time, we are sitting down with patients, reviewing their medicines, and choosing plans that will minimize their expenses next year. We can even make suggestions on how to lower drug costs overall.

One patient we recently reviewed will have at least a $240 a month increase in expenses if she does nothing. If she changes Medicare plans, the increase will be $120. Switching to lower cost generics could DECREASE her costs by at least $30 a month.

Please, attend our educational sessions. Bring friends or family members for support. Schedule an appointment with one of our pharmacists. Just please do something. l

Opinion pieces by readers don’t necessarily reflect the opinion of this newspaper. If have a topic you’d like to write about, contact editor Will Dendis at saugertiestimes@ulsterpublishing.com

There are 4 comments

  1. Barbara T. Ambrosano

    Saving money by using generic drugs sounds great for most people. I for one have tried to use certain generic drugs, and have become very sick from them. Some people are extremely sensitive to such things as dyes, and other compounds used in drug manufacturing. What do we do to save money?

  2. Lee Graczyk

    RxRights is a national coalition dedicated to promoting and protecting American consumer access to sources of safe, affordable prescription drugs. Each day we hear from people, particularly seniors on fixed incomes, who can’t afford their needed medicines.

    It’s a terrible fact that in tough financial times people skip taking their prescription drugs. For seniors, this often means they aren’t taking critical maintenance meds for serious conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. This is a serious public health problem.

    Americans pay an average of twice as much for our prescription drugs as consumers in other industrialized countries. Consumers should know that they have other alternatives. Many have been safely importing prescription drugs for years from legitimate Canadian and other international pharmacies. Importation has become a virtual lifeline for over a million Americans who can’t afford the exorbitant prices of their needed medications at home.

    EVERYONE should have the right to safe, affordable medications and the right to choose where they purchase them.

    For tips on choosing a safe online pharmacy and for more information go to: http://www.rxrights.org.

  3. Heather

    The COLA will help seniors better handle the increases in inflation they are seeing. Cost of living is going up and this will help. We also recommend looking on the other side of the income/expense equation. We help seniors get the best priced medicare supplement plan for their premium dollar. Give us a call at 888-729-6493 or visit us by clicking on the link below. You would be surprised by how much you are over paying for your medicare supplement (medigap) plan.

    Heather
    Is medicare supplement plan F the best plan?

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