Retirement: Pharmacy Savings
Seniors can save money at the pharmacy just by knowing what benefits are available. Three of these services are Medicare, State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP), and the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPARX).
The Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 changed how many people in retirement can save at the pharmacy. In the Prescription Drug and Other Assistance Programs section of www.medicare.gov, you will find information on:
These are some of the program highlights. Applying for a Medicare-approved drug discount card, which offers significant savings, is voluntary. Medicare enrollees are eligible to enroll in a Medicare-approved drug discount card, unless you receive outpatient prescription drugs through Medicaid. You do not need to enroll if you get significant help with your drug costs from other sources - such as retiree insurance, Medigap coverage, or health plan benefits. Brand-name drugs are discounted from 11 ½ percent to over 30 percent. The savings are even more dramatic when the discount drug card is applied to generic drugs - 30 to more than 60 percent off. Low-income seniors without drug coverage can get even more help. If you qualify, a $600 credit on the Medicare-approved drug discount card is available.
Everyone has different drug needs and purchase preferences. On the Medicare website, there is a Price Comparison tool to help choose your card or you can download their Guide to Choosing a Medicare-Approved Drug Discount Card for more information. Enrollment forms for the Medicare-approved drug discount cards are available on www.medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. The maximum card fee is $30 per year - many cards offer lower fees or no fee.
State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP)
You can get help with prescription drug costs from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), also called State Pharmacy Assistance Programs (SPAP). These state agencies work closely with Medicare and Medicaid. To contact your local SHIP, visit the Medicare website link. If you receive benefits under your State Medicaid's program, then you may not qualify for a Medicare-approved drug discount card. Some beneficiaries enrolled in SPAP get assistance from their state with the Medicare-approved drug discount card enrollment process. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island are the current states helping to make it easier for beneficiaries enrolled in these programs. You should contact your SPAP for information before applying.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPARX)
Most pharmaceutical companies help the uninsured and the underinsured with the high cost of their drugs, through patient assistance programs. Each company has different income guidelines - you must fall within these to qualify. Check with your pharmacist as to which pharmaceutical company manufacturers your prescription drugs. Then, to find which programs you qualify for, go to the Partnership for Prescription Assistance web site or call 1-888-477-2669.
Now that you know where to look for your retirement pharmacy savings - Medicare, State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP), and the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPARX) - go out there and get them.
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