Pick a plan man!
We have a sister website called MedicareDrugPlans.com, where you can find basic information about, well, Medicare drug plans, and read reviews of the plans written by people who have used them, and rate your own plan if you have one. We’ve updated our data to include the plans that will be available in 2017.
Why? It’s that time again to pick a Medicare Part D plan. Doors opened today, October 15, and will close on December 7. If you’re one of 57 million Americans, most of them over 65, who are enrolled in Medicare then you either have a plan or are newly eligible for one. There are many plans (although fewer than there once were) and picking one can be highly aggravating. While online pharmacies, drug prices, and personal drug importation are PharmacyChecker.com’s forte, each year since we started PharmacyCheckerBlog, I’ve tried to write something educational, practical, even funny, about the plans and how to pick one at enrollment time. This year I went nuts. Still, if you read through this post carefully, it will teach you about Part D Medicare drug plans: the good, the bad, and the ugly and give you resources to learn even more. First a very little history… (more…)
Tagged with: Medicare, Medicare Part D, Part D
To hear it from the pharmaceutical industry, Medicare Part D, the federal program that helps American seniors and the disabled cover medication costs, is a highly popular, successful, low-cost program. That’s bunk. According to a new paper, written by authors Marc-Andrew Gagon, PhD. and Sidney Wolfe, MD (Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration and Public Citizen, respectively), drug prices covered under Medicare Part D are wildly inflated compared to drug prices in all other countries. Ok. We knew that already. That’s why seniors continue to import medication from other countries! But seriously, this report includes fresh data and critical analysis to reminds us, and hopefully convince Congress, that not only are we paying too much as taxpayers and consumers but Americans often cannot afford to take prescribed medication at all, and that leads to more hospitalizations and higher healthcare costs.
We’ve noted on many occasions the government’s survey data showing that about five million Americans import prescription drugs for personal use due to cost. About 750,000 are seniors, most who are subject to the coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole” of Part D, which, despite improvements under Obamacare, still leads to millions of seniors struggling to afford medication. Their decision to buy more affordable medication internationally makes sense. According to the new report, even the rebated brand name drugs under Part D are almost twice (198%) the cost paid in countries that make up the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – the most advanced economies.
The report is called “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall: Medicare Part D pays needlessly high brand-name drug prices compared with other OECD countries and U.S. government programs.” You can find it here. (more…)
Tagged with: gagnon, OECD, Part D, public citizne, seniors, sidney wolfe
A Bittersweet Prescription
OPEN enrollment for Medicare Part D drug plans ended this past Sunday, but my thoughts about them linger. Our website www.MedicareDrugpPlans.com received about 150 ratings of part D plans in 2014 – most of them highly critical, and some of them downright scathing! Whether it’s a plan’s horrible customer service, lack of coverage of many brand name drugs, or dropped coverage, we’re hearing from many irate seniors. At the same time, some studies have shown most seniors are happy with their plans. Why all the contradictions about Part D? To understand, please join me on a trip down Part D memory lane.
When PharmacyChecker.com was founded in 2002, American seniors did not have pharmacy benefit plans through Medicare. While most seniors had some drug coverage through private health insurance or Medicaid, 25% were without any drug coverage and, thus, vulnerable to a pharmacy’s highest retail price. Just eight months after our website launched in April 2003, Congress passed and the president signed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA), which created a pharmacy benefit opportunity for all Medicare enrollees known as Part D.
It’s amazing and sad to report that, today, the problem of high drug prices for Americans overall is worse than the problems existing before the MMA was born. In 2001, the Commonwealth Fund reported that 28 million Americans did not fill a prescription due to cost. That number shot up to 50 million Americans in 2012!
Tagged with: MMA, Part D, seniors
American Medical News reported last week, “Pharmacists have called on the agency overseeing the Medicare program to allow patients to switch their prescription drug plans outside of the normal open enrollment season after beneficiaries say they were misled by insurers.” This would mean a second chance for patients who feel they were not given all the details of the plan they are now stuck with for a year.
A large proportion of ratings and reviews found on our site – MedicareDrugPlans.com – certainly demonstrate the frustration of Medicare enrollees who are not happy with their plans. We would support such a “second chance” to find a better plan. (more…)
Tagged with: American Medical News, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS, co-pays, enrollees, Medicare, medicaredrugplans.com, Part D, premiums, U.S. pharmacists