Medicare Drug Discount Cards In Effect, But Many Not Signed Up
The much-heralded Medicare drug discount card program started last Tuesday, but several sources report that the Bush Administration’s estimate that 7.3 million out of 41 million Medicare members would sign up is falling far short of the mark.
Various groups are offering aid and are encouraging seniors to sign up for a card, which could save beneficiaries from 10 percent to 25 percent on their prescription drug purchases. But settling on one of the 73 cards being offered is proving a tough choice for many seniors because determining which card is the right one is difficult.
However, everyone is agreed on one thing: low-income seniors should do everything possible to sign up for a card. Many of them are eligible for federal grants which will help them pay for their prescriptions once they have a card in hand.
A single senior citizen with an annual income of $12,569 or less, or a married couple with annual income of $16,862 or less will be eligible for a $600 credit this year and next to help pay for drugs.
If you are eligible for the subsidy, don’t miss out on it. Sign up for a discount card so you’ll get the additional aid. You will also be getting discounts on drug purchases that are built into the card, so make every effort to get into one of the many programs offered. Savings will be greater if you choose to have your prescriptions filled with generic drugs.
Low-income seniors who are enrolled in the EPIC (Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage) program will not have to do anything to get the $600 subsidy. Some 123,000 low-income seniors in EPIC will automatically get the subsidy. They are also being enrolled in the Medicare/EPIC drug discount card program. Their cards should be arriving shortly.
Meanwhile, Democrats and other senior advocates are still charging that drug prices should be and could be lower, saving seniors more money, if Medicare were permitted to negotiate with the major pharmaceutical firms to buy in bulk and get products at a larger discount.
Failing that, they want the Medicare law changed to allow seniors to obtain their drugs from Canada or other foreign countries where drug prices are much lower than in the United States.
The Bush Administration has softened its position on drug imports from Canada, so there’s a chance the proposal will be approved.
SCHUMER’S IDEA FOR SAVINGS: Meanwhile, United States Senator Charles Schumer (D–New York) said New Yorkers could save money on their drug purchases if prescription drug prices throughout New York State were listed on the Web so seniors could compare them and buy where the drugs are lowest in price. If this were the case, it might also help seniors to choose a drug discount card. Schumer says he plans to introduce the plan so it can be enacted into law.