Question of the Day on ElderCareMatters.com: "My husband and I are both in our 80s and take a lot of prescription medicines. My question is whether there are any programs in place (nationally or in our state of Kentucky) that help seniors get their prescription drugs at a discount. We are spending far too much of our monthly income paying for prescription medicine. Please help."

Answer:  The first option is to always ask your prescriber for samples.  While this may work earlier in the year, as many seniors enter the donut hole, the demand for certain medications may far exceed the supply that prescribers have to share with their patients.   Always have your “next option” underway. 

In my locale, we have KIPDA (Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency) and similar regional agencies can be found throughout the country.   Many offer community outreach programs covering qualified Medicare beneficiaries under the “Extra Help with Prescription Drug Costs.”  This program is funded by the Social Security Administration, the Extra Help program provides premium, deductible, and co-payment subsidies for Medicare Part D using new 2011 Federal higher income levels.

Qualified individuals must meet the specific criteria to receive a full or partial subsidy:  they must be entitled to, or enrolled in, Medicare Part D; reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia; and meet annual income guidelines.  I would suggest that you contact the Social Security office; they should be able to provide a phone number for a similar agency in your region.  Ask that office if they provide a similar service. Also, you can go online to www.socialsecurity.gov and click on “Get extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs” located in the left hand column; or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).  

Rx Help at 1-800-760-7616 is an organization that provides drug discount cards services.  Share the following with your pharmacy (most national pharmacies participate) and this organization offers 10-85% on all FDA approved brand-name and generic medications (ID# National 001/RX Bin# 014582, Grp NDC707).  Another option is Rx Assist (www.rxassist.org or 401-729-3284) that also has information about patient assistance programs and drug discount cards. 

Benefits Check Up Rx is sponsored by the non-profit National Council on the Aging.  This web site checks the potential eligibility of adults age 55 and over for more than 260 public and private prescription drug programs. After completing a questionnaire, the user receives a confidential, personalized report. The entire process typically takes five to seven minutes to complete.  (http://www.benefitscheckup.org/before_you_start.cfm?screen=BenefitsCheckUpRx) 

Pharmaceutical Patient Assistance Programs where several pharmaceutical companies feature programs to help eligible applicants reduce their medication costs. These programs are usually limited to the company’s brand-name medications, and will most likely have specific requirements including age and income. 

Partnership for Prescription Assistance (info@pparx.org or 800-477-2669) is an organization that researches the various drug assistance programs currently available and provides access to more than 275 public and private patient assistance programs, including more than 150 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies.  

NeedyMeds (www.needymeds.org) is a web-based service that shares information on cost saving ideas and includes drug coupon programs, disease-specific assistance programs, information about discount drug cards and more. 

TogetherRx (www.togetherrxAccess.com or 800-444-4106) is a pharmaceutical sponsored program offers a 40-60 percent discount on certain brand name and generic medications for those who do not have prescription coverage. 

I hope that this helps….

To find other competent, caring elder care professionals across America who are located near You and can help you with your elder care matters, go to: www.ElderCareMatters.com – A FREE online resource to find elder care experts plus elder care information & answers to your elder care questions.

Lynn Harrelson, R.Ph., FASCP, Senior Care Pharmacist
8302 Cheshire Way
Louisville, Kentucky  40222
502-425-8642
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Kentucky chapter 

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