Richard Piatt Reporting Senior Citizens on Medicare can apply for a new prescription drug discount card starting Monday. But the program meant to ease the pain of high-cost drugs may not come in a big enough dose.
Starting with who can qualify, how the program would work, how much seniors would save---between 10 and 15 percent--the bottom line is this program is a step in the right direction, but just a little one.
Senior Citizens use a third of all the medication dispensed in the United States, even though they're just 20 percent of the population. These days that means big money.
Dora Paul Whitworth can't imagine what would happen if she didn't have insurance to help pay for the prescriptions she needs.
Dora Paul Whitworth: "I take nine prescriptions in the morning and eight at night. So it does get to be quite a bit."
There are millions of senior citizens who struggle. For them, especially low-income seniors without insurance, there is relief on the way in the form of a Medicare Prescription Drug Discount Card. But the relief that card offers is limited.
Sheldon Elman, Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services: "It is a good start. At least it's an acknowledgement that seniors need some assistance in paying for their medications."
Seniors cannot use the card with current insurance, only as an alternative. The amount of the discount varies due to different agreements with different providers. And it's up to seniors to find the best deal online because the prices can change week to week.
Low-income seniors do qualify for a 600 dollar annual credit.
For millions of seniors, all they know is they need their prescriptions drugs and they're terrified they may not be able to afford them. Unfortunately, a comprehensive solution is now involved in the political process and is still years away.
A lot of seniors still want to work in the system; they don't want to go to Canada or Mexico to get a good deal. But they're also anxious about rising costs and benefits plans that keep changing.
Seniors can apply for the Medicaid Discount Drug Card starting Monday. Seniors can start using the card June First. There are a number of ins and outs of the card you'll want to know about.
For additional information you can:
--Call the AARP Utah Office at 866-991-2277
--Call the Utah Health Insurance Information Program (HIIP) at 800-541-7735
--Call Medicare at 800-633-4227
--Follow the links to the Medicare or AARP web sites