The cost of prescriptions can be a large part of our budgets these days. While the rising cost of medicines can be a worry for seniors there are ways available to help with the cost. We can take a few easy steps to learn what is available to help us and how to ease the everyday cost of prescriptions. One of the first steps we can do is to have an open dialog with our doctors. They may have samples or coupons available for brand name drugs. You may want to ask if she feels that a generic option would work for your new medication. These questions may offer the possibility of helping with some of your cost.

The next biggest single cost-saver? During Medicare Fall Open Enrollment or signing up for Medicare for the first time, you’ll want to make a list of all your medications. Carefully work with your agent to compare plans available in your area.
Before reviewing with your agent, you need to understand what your options are for prescription plans. Beneficiaries can either get prescription drug benefits through a private insurance plan under what is known as a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, or part D. If you chose this option it will work with Original Medicare (part A&B), a supplement plan from an insurance company or with your veteran benefits. They can also get prescription coverage bundled with a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans are a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide all your Part A and Part B benefits, some of these plans also offer prescription drug plans in addition to A & B coverage.

A major concern to understand when talking about drug plans while Medicare Part D coverage is considered voluntary, you must be getting prescription drug coverage that pays at least as much as Medicare’s standard Part D prescription drug coverage, also known as credible coverage. If you do not, you can face a penalty fee that grows each month you delay enrollment. This penalty will apply throughout your lifetime. Due to this penalty it is important to consider a drug plan even if you are currently not prescribed anything currently. As stated earlier you can choose one of these options at the time of enrollment and make changes every year during AEP (Annual Enrollment Period). Every year during AEP it is a good idea to review changes in your medication with your agent to find the fit for your needs.

In New Jersey seniors with a limited budget should be aware of a government program known as PAAD (Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged & Disabled). This program is a state-funded program that helps eligible seniors and individuals with disabilities save money on their prescription drug costs. To qualify you must be a resident of NJ, age 65 or older or between ages 18 and 64 and receiving SSI benefits and meet certain income requirements. The application is available online or on paper. You can contact the Department of Human Services or we at BEW Financial Solutions will be more than happy to assist you in completing an application.

Finally, one last saving option is how you fill your prescriptions. For medications you take regularly for a chronic condition, opt for the convenience and potential cost-savings of mail-order. In addition to sparing you unnecessary trips to the pharmacy, mail-ordering can sometimes include a 90-day supply at a reduced cost, depending on your insurance company and what kind of medications you need. Be sure to ask your doctor whether he or she needs to sign off on a 90-day supply. And take care to order refills before you need them so there is not a gap of time when you don’t have any pills.

We hope these suggestions have come in handy to help your budget and your understanding of the options you have available. Please feel free to reach out to BEW Financial Solutions for any other questions or issues that arise. We are here to offer you the services to make your worry less and enjoy life more.