The objective of the Senior Discount Card Program is to give Seniors who have no prescription insurance coverage the opportunity to save some money on their prescription costs. If your are married the total income has to be under $16,862 and if you are single the figure is $12,569 in order to qualify. You have to compute your income, but the easiest way is to use the total income line from your 2003 taxes.
In practical terms, the program is politically motivated to be Senior Friendly in an election year. It does not address the real problems of Healthcare in this country, but adds another Band-Aid and another layer of Bureaucracy to an already too complicated and too costly Healthcare system.
To learn the details on the Senior Card you can call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227) or log on to their website at https://www.medicare.gov to obtain the information.
On the Medicare Website, the program is covered by 4 Informational pamphlets
- Guide to Choosing a Medicare-Approved Drug Discount Card
- Drug Discount Card Enrollment Tip Sheet
- Medicare-Approved Drug Discount Card Tip Sheet
- Introducing Medicare-Approved Drug Discount Cards
Plus…Medicare Savings Card Program Comparison.
All of these informational sources provide the user with understanding about the program, which is complicated and not easy to understand. To use the Card Program Comparison you have to be computer literate and know exactly what medications you are taking and the strengths. I doubt if most seniors that will qualify for these discount cards do have the PC skills to use the program.
What is not addressed is the fact that there are two kinds of prescription drugs that are bought by seniors. Acute medication and maintenance medication. Prescriptions for an acute problem such as an infection requires immediate access to an antibiotic prescription that you can’t get via mail order on a timely basis. On the other hand, if you are on a drug such as Generic hydrochlorothiazide for high blood pressure, you can order it via the mail and wait for a couple of weeks to have it arrive, unless of course you don’t have any on hand to begin with.
In turn, if the senior signs up for a mail order program, the discount card will not be honored at a retail drug store, unless the Drug Chain has both retail stores and mail order facilities. If your doctor is having trouble stabilizing your medical condition due to side effects of drugs or drug interactions, mail order may not be the way to go.
In addition, location can be a problem and if you live in a rural area, it may be your only choice.
You can price shop your drugs on line at Medicare Program Savings. You type in your drug, such as Lipitor 10 mg., 30’s, which is a one-month supply and it, will list from lowest cost to highest by Drug Card. Walgreen comes up the lowest at $66.97 and AARP (who pushed this bill) comes up at $77.68) and myPharmcare comes in the highest at $83.54. Of course, Canadian Mail Order beats them all, if you can get it filled.
So…there you have it, a complicated way to lower your prescription costs if you are a senior and don’t have any drug coverage.
A simpler way is to demand that your physician prescribe generics that have proven to work and are reliable. If your doctor has been prescribing $1200 worth of name brand drugs to you and they could all be switched to generic, you would cut your bill in at least half and come out the same.
If Congress had not dumped the provision out of the law that allowed Medicare to negotiate costs for you, you would not be facing a complicated and confusing program to save money. In addition, there is a federal government administration cost that has been added to our national debt because of this program.
Ask your Congressman why they didn’t do it the simple way.
I know the answer, and you do too. Put the Congressman on the spot and let’s send the message that it is time they start working for those who voted him/her into office.
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