Most of us expect to live on a fixed income in retirement, and we know that inflation will become a challenge to our budgets over time. What we often don’t expect, however, is that the cost of some necessary goods and services will outpace the overall inflation rate. And when one of those goods or services becomes essential for you, it creates a significant challenge for your budget.
That is now the case with prescription medications. The cost of many drugs has outpaced the general inflation rate for several years now, and many seniors have trouble affording their medications. According to the Office of Health Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3.5 million Americans age 65 and older frequently struggled to afford their prescriptions in 2019. Many report that they are skipping doses of their medications, or halving their pills, in order to make ends meet.
Other statistics reported by HHS include:
- Black and latino Medicare recipients over the age of 65 were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to have trouble affording their prescriptions
- Gender also impacts affordability of prescription drugs, with 7.8 percent of women and 5.2 percent of men reporting problems
- Among Medicare recipients with diabetes, 9.9 percent of seniors over age 65 reported problems with affording prescriptions, compared with 6.6 percent of the overall over-65 population
- 11 percent of seniors living below 200 percent of the poverty level report affordability issues, compared with 4.7 percent of seniors living above 200 percent of the poverty level
Congress continues to debate various measures to control the cost of prescription medications. But Medicare does offer the opportunity to participate in Part D, or prescription drug plans, to assist you with the cost of prescription drugs.
Enrolling in a plan can help you to manage out-of-pocket spending on prescription medications, but the real key is using your plan appropriately. Each year during the annual election period, research the different plans available to you. Make sure you understand each plan’s drug formulary, talk to your doctor about affordable medication options, and stay current on changes to your plan each year. Using generic drugs will almost always result in a significant savings, so make sure to always tell your pharmacist of this preference. Taking these steps can help you to maximize the benefits from your Part D plan.
Good Rx provides resources to help you manage your prescription drug costs. Their app monitors prices of medications with more than 75,000 pharmacies in the United States. You will also receive coupons for discounts on some medications. The service even provides a telemedicine platform so that you can discuss your prescription needs without having to visit the doctor in person.
If you need help understanding your Part D plan, or comparing plans and shopping for one, give us a call. We can help you identify your needs and then match you to a Medicare Part D plan that helps you manage your spending.