Wendy future of retail top

Walgreens survey finds Part D disconnect

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Seniors worry about Rx costs but don't review or understand coverage

DEERFIELD, Ill. — A new survey by Walgreens has revealed a disconnect among seniors as they weigh Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.

Although seniors cite prescription drug costs as one of their top Medicare concerns, 34% said they aren’t reviewing their prescription drug benefits plan before renewing it, and 19% reported they don’t have a good understanding of their plan. The telephone survey of 1,000 Medicare Part D beneficiaries, conducted by Market Insights Group ahead of the annual enrollment period, which runs Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

seniors WAG pharmacy_featuredWalgreens said 35% of seniors identified prescription costs as the Medicare area of greatest concern, followed by expenses from assisted living (33%) and hospital or emergency room services (32%).

Regarding their current Part D plan, 22% of seniors said they look at only one component, such as checking to see if their medications are covered. Twenty-one percent mistakenly believe all pharmacies charge the same co-payment, and 33% aren’t aware that they can switch pharmacies outside of the enrollment period.

According to John Lee, senior director of Medicare at Walgreens, the top three thing to do when renewing Part D coverage are ensuring that your prescription medications are covered; reviewing the cost of premiums, deductibles and co-pays; and checking to see if your plan has preferred pharmacies.

“This latest survey reinforces the need to educate beneficiaries about how plans and coverage can and do change from year to year, as can a person’s health and prescription needs,” Lee said in a statement. “It’s critical for people to be able to get the medications they need at prices they can afford. One of the ways we’re helping to address this need is through participation in preferred pharmacy networks with most of the leading national Part D plan sponsors. Our pharmacists are also a valuable community resource to help people understand Part D information and their coverage options.”

Among respondents in the Walgreens Medicare Part D survey, 30% cited co-pay costs as the top factor in choosing a pharmacy, followed by pharmacy location (18%) and the opportunity for one-stop shopping (18%).

Some seniors reported that costs concerns impact their medication habits. The survey found that 12% of respondents have delayed filling a current prescription, and another 9% have skipped doses occasionally to stretch their supply.

“Any time individuals aren’t remaining adherent to medications it’s a concern, as it can pose significant health risks and can also lead to more health care expenditures in the long run,” Lee commented.

Medicare beneficiaries can go online to Walgreens.com/Medicare for help in navigating insurance plans. The drug chain said it has partnered with eHealth, an independent, licensed health insurance broker that works with more than 180 insurance carriers nationwide. Free, personalized advice from a licensed eHealth adviser is available at ehealthmedicare.com/Walgreens. Medicare beneficiaries can also visit Medicare.gov to review and compare plans.

In addition, Walgreens offers the “Medicare Savings Guide” online and in its stores. Walgreens pharmacists also are available to discuss ways that Part D beneficiaries can reduce prescription costs, including via 90-day refills and using lower-cost brands.

During the Medicare open enrollment period, more than 55 million Americans can enroll in Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plans. Walgreens said it’s in the preferred pharmacy network for many of the largest Medicare plans, including Aetna, Cigna, EnvisionRx, Express Scripts, First Health, Humana, SilverScript and UnitedHealthcare, as well as several Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans that use Prime Therapeutics as their pharmacy benefit manager.

The retailer said plan sponsors narrowed their pharmacy networks for 2017 but still have Walgreens as a preferred pharmacy and that, beginning in January, some of these plans offer co-pays as low as $0 for generic drugs filled at a preferred pharmacy like Walgreens.


Comments are closed.