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DEERFIELD, Ill. — A Walgreens survey released Tuesday found that 37% of Medicare Part D beneficiaries have daily concerns about their prescription drug costs, and 1-in-5 say they’ve had to make sacrifices, such as delaying filling a prescription or skipping doses, to help manage medication costs.
That's almost 11.7 million seniors.
“It’s important for everyone to be able to afford the prescriptions they need, and with recent changes to Medicare and other programs under healthcare reform, it’s critical for beneficiaries to fully understand their options and ways to make their healthcare dollars go further,” stated Dan Luce, director of pharmacy affairs, Walgreens. “If cost is a contributor to patients not adhering to medication therapies, as the survey findings show, it’s always a concern because nonadherence can be a significant and costly barrier in treating illness. This underscores the need to educate Part D beneficiaries about how they can save on prescription and other healthcare costs.”
Despite most beneficiaries (77%) surveyed saying they have a clear understanding of their plan benefits, only half realize that co-pays for Part D prescriptions can vary by pharmacy; for instance, some plans feature preferred pharmacy networks that offer lower co-pays. Also, nearly 30% don’t know that they can switch pharmacies at any time, believing falsely that it can only be done during Medicare’s Annual Election Period (open enrollment). And nearly 60% said if they could change one thing about their Part D plan, it would be lower costs and co-pays.
The survey examined the behaviors and understanding of seniors currently enrolled in Medicare Part D, and is part of Walgreens You’re Worth Savings initiative, which aims to educate Medicare beneficiaries about cost saving opportunities and how to get the most from their prescription drug plan.
The Medicare Part D beneficiaries surveyed take an average of eight prescriptions each week and spend an average of $58 per month on their co-pays, with nearly 2-in-10 (17%) paying more than $100. More than half of the seniors surveyed say they would switch pharmacies if it meant savings on prescription drug costs.
The survey also found:
- Most seniors are trying to lower prescription costs — 72% have switched to generic medications and 44% are filling more 90-day prescriptions in an effort to save;
- Only 15% of those surveyed were able to correctly identify the major components of national Part D prescription plans; and
- Only hospital/emergency room costs (40%) and caregiver/assisted living expenses (38%) are a greater concern for respondents than prescription drug costs (37%).
The survey was designed and conducted by KRC Research on behalf of Walgreens. Interviews were conducted by telephone between April 8 and April 15, 2013. In all, 1,000 U.S. Medicare Part D beneficiaries, age 65 and older, were interviewed. The data were weighted by demographics such as age, sex, geographic region, and race to ensure reliable and accurate representation of Medicare Part D beneficiaries.
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