Open Enrollment is the period between November 15th and December 31st each year when Medicare enrollees can sign up for Part D prescription drug coverage, or if they are already enrolled, cancel their current plan, or switch to a different plan. Open enrollment is the time to research, rate and compare the plan options so that you pick the plan that’s best for you. A month and a half means you don’t have to and should not rush to a decision…
The enrollment period can be confusing enough for Medicare members, and this year’s changes that come with the health reform may make sign-up decisions even more complicated. We therefore recommend MedicareDrugPlans.com as a very helpful site that gives you access to honest plan reviews from your peers.
On MedicareDrugPlans.com you can sort plan options by name, company, location, overall rating or individual rating (i.e.: information received from plan, customer service, choice of drugs, cost of plan, and ease of use). There are plan profiles for all plan options offered in 2011 and forums about the drug plans, and related Medicare issues, on which you can ask questions or add your input. This means you can find important information about the plans and what others have experienced using them. You may discover which plans covered all of a member’s drugs without problems or which have great or not-so-great customer service – all from a community of consumers just like you.
Tagged with: affordable prescriptions, forums, health, health reform, Healthcare Reform, Medicare, Medicare Drug Plans, medicaredrugplans.com, Open Enrollment, Part D, ratings, reviews, United States
We often report about policies affecting access to safe and affordable medication through personal drug importation, and advocate for laws that help American patients – not corporate profits. Like safe personal drug importation, faster access to generic drugs right here at home would make prescription drugs more affordable for uninsured and under-insured Americans. Unfortunately, last month the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made a decision that adversely affects consumers but benefits pharmaceutical manufactures of both brand and generic drugs. The court decided to decline a review of the “pay-to-delay” ruling of Arkansas Carpenters Health and Welfare Fund v. Bayer AG means that, once again, pharmaceutical profits are protected at the expense of greater consumer access to affordable medication.
The decision declares that Bayer, the manufacturer of Cipro, an anti-infection drug, is lawful in paying Barr Laboratories, a large generic drug manufacturing company, $400 million to not challenge Bayer’s patent, which protects the high price now charged for Cipro. When generic drug manufacturers successfully challenge the validity of a patent, they are able to more quickly manufacture and sell low-cost versions of the drugs. Settlements that prevent such patent challenges cost consumers $3.5 billion a year, according to Federal Trade Commissioner Jon Leibowitz.
The 2nd Court’s decision was based on that same court’s earlier ruling of In re Tamoxifen Citrate Antitrust Litigation, 466, F. 3d 187 (2006), which found pay-offs to generic drug companies do not violate anti-trust law. There have been 53 similar pharmaceutical patent settlements, resulting in a variety of drugs with prices out of reach for many American patients.
Such rulings indicate that American patients can only win if the issue is decided differently by the Supreme Court or, and more likely, Congress changes the law.
Senator Herb Kohl is one congressman looking to make this happen. Senator Kohl introduced the Preserve Access to Affordable Generic Drugs Act (S. 369), legislation, which is still pending, to combat the practice of pay-off agreements between pharmaceutical companies and reduce the number of pay-for-delay settlements that keep generic drugs off the market. This legislation would be a big step in protecting consumer’s interests and health costs, and we hope for its success.
Tagged with: affordable prescriptions, Barr Laboritories, Bayer, brand name drugs, Cipro, Drug Prices, generics, health, pay-to-delay, pharmaceutical companies, pharmaceuticals, phrma, Senator Herb Kohl, Tamoxifen, United States
With open enrollment for Medicare Part D just around the corner, 50% discounts on brand name prescriptions while in the coverage gap seems to be a great new benefit this coming year… or is it? Some patient advocate groups, and we at PharmacyChecker.com, are asking, 50% off what price? Will PhRMA offer the discount on a higher-than-normal base price to cover their losses?
As the market, not the government, controls drug prices, it is a possibility that manufacturers will up the prices on drugs, especially specialty medications that lack brand-name alternative or generic competition, in order to make up for the lost profit. A brand name drug that costs $100 per month now – $50 in 2011 for Medicare Part D enrollees – may likely cost $120 next year – or $60 for Medicare enrollees – so that the manufacturers are able to spare revenue loss little by little. (more…)
Tagged with: affordable prescriptions, Drug Prices, health, Healthcare Reform, Medicare, Medicare Drug Plans, Part D, phrma, save money, seniors, United States