Cost is leading many Medicare Part D beneficiaries to skip medication doses and put off prescription refillls, a new survey from Walgreen Co. found.


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Walgreens poll: Seniors skimp on Rx to manage costs

May 7th, 2013

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Cost is leading many Medicare Part D beneficiaries to skip medication doses and put off prescription refillls, a new survey from Walgreen Co. found.

Walgreens said Tuesday that of the 1,000 Medicare Part D recipients polled in the study, conducted by KRC Research, 37% have daily concerns about their prescription drug costs. As a result, one in five seniors have had to make sacrifices such as postponing the filling of a prescription or missing doses, the phone survey revealed.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents indicated that they have a clear understanding of their Part D plan's benefits, but just half realized that co-payments for Part D prescriptions can vary by pharmacy, according to Walgreens, which noted that some plans feature preferred pharmacies that offer lower co-pays.

Almost 30% of seniors polled didn't know they can changes pharmacies anytime and that switching pharmacies isn't restricted to Medicare's annual open enrollment period. And about 60% said that if they could change one thing about their Part D plan, it would be lower costs and co-pays.

"It's important for everyone to be able to afford the prescriptions they need, and with recent changes to Medicare and other programs under health care reform, it's critical for beneficiaries to fully understand their options and ways to make their health care dollars go further," Dan Luce, director of pharmacy affairs at Walgreens, said in a statement.

"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," Luce added. "This underscores the need to educate Part D beneficiaries about how they can save on prescription and other health care costs."

Other survey findings included the following:

• The Part D beneficiaries polled take an average of eight prescriptions weekly and spend an average of $58 per month on their co-pays, with about 17% paying more than $100.
• 55% of seniors said they would switch pharmacies if it led to prescription drug savings.
• 72% of respondents have switched to generic drugs, and 44% are filling more 90-day prescriptions to save money.
• 21% of those surveyed switched to a pharmacy in their plan's preferred network as a way to save, and 24% are unaware of whether their plan offers a preferred pharmacy option.
• 15% of seniors were able to correctly identify the major components of national Part D plans.
• Seniors cited only hospital/emergency room costs (40%) and caregiver/assisted living expenses (38%) as a greater concern than prescription drug costs (37%).

The survey 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.

According to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, more than 31.5 million people were enrolled in the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit program in 2012, Walgreens reported.

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