Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Your Complete Guide to Medicare Open Enrollment

Choosing your own health plan can be an intimidating and often confusing process, particularly for those who are already enrolled in Medicare but are interested in how other plans on the market compare with Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D.

With Open Enrollment season ending December 7th, time is running out to select the plan that fits your needs along with your budget. Fortunately, our friends at My Medicare Matters have developed a guide to help you through it.

The Complete Guide to Medicare Open Enrollment gives you an overview of the essential facts of the Open Enrollment period, including when it starts and ends, which parts of your Medicare plan you can change, and when your new coverage will begin. It also lets you know who should consider changing their coverage during this period; for example, certain people may find plans that offer better prescription drug coverage than their current plan, while others may need to switch in order to keep their doctor in-network. You can also sign up for reminders by email to learn more about when Open Enrollment starts and ends.

Not sure how your current Medicare plan stacks up? Use My Medicare Matters’ short Medicare Questionnaire. By answering a few simple questions, you will be provided with an online price comparison tool that will allow you to do your own research and find the plan that is right for you.

We’ve partnered with My Medicare Matters because like us, they are dedicated to offering free, easy ways to help people save money on their health. Together with our free Prescription Savings Card, which saved an average of 42% off the retail cost of prescription medication in 2014, there are more options than ever to help people, insured or uninsured, save on the rising cost of proper healthcare.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

United Way of Miami-Dade Reaches $10 Million Saved With FamilyWize

This week we're celebrating an important milestone with our partners at United Way of Miami-Dade. They've helped their community save over $10 million on prescription medications by sharing the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card with people in need!

United Way of Miami-Dade, an organization focused on improving the health and well-being of individuals and families in their area, began partnering with FamilyWize in 2008. We're happy to report that the card has helped more than 140,000 people in Miami-Dade!

“The United Way/FamilyWize partnership has proven to be successful in our community, allowing people to save money while making proper, healthy decisions,” said Harve A. Mogul, the president and CEO of United Way of Miami-Dade. “We are proud of reaching this $10 million milestone and will continue to do all we can to keep our community healthy.”

Since 1924, United Way of Miami-Dade has been an innovative force for their community, successfully responding to emerging needs and transforming people’s lives. We are proud to partner with organizations that share our vision for a stronger community and embody the spirit of collaboration.

Celebrate with us

If you live in the Miami-Dade area, come join us as we help United Way to celebrate this milestone at the Borinquen Health and Education Fair  on November 21.

The fair is from 9 AM - 4 PM, and will feature various free health screenings and educational materials for attendees, plus food, music, and gift cards, while supplies last. We will also be offering free flu shots as part of our partnership with Walgreens.

You needn’t be a Miami-Dade resident to benefit from the FamilyWize card’s discounts. In fact, pharmacies throughout the U.S. accept the FamilyWize card, including CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Kmart, Costco, Publix, and Target, and more! For a full list of participating pharmacies or to look up drug prices, visit www.familywize.org.

For the past 10 years, we have lowered the cost of medication for people without insurance or take medications not covered by their health plan - and even for those with insurance, the card often gives the better discount. Here's what you should know about the FamilyWize card:
  • It has unlimited use
  • Getting one does not require any personal information from you
  • There is no eligibility criteria
  • If you’re a business owner or employer, you can request FamilyWize cards in bulk for your employees
To print a card, go to familywize.org/card, or request a card by calling us toll-free at 800-222-2818. You can also download a card through the smartphone app.

And if you haven't done so yet, get your free copy of our Live Healthy. Live Smart.® eBook. This educational guide provides valuable information about prescription medications — from how to talk to your pharmacist to how to get the best prices at the pharmacy.

We are dedicated to improving people's lives by helping to make their prescription medication more affordable. With help from organizations like United Way of Miami-Dade, our goal looks more achievable than ever.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What You Should Know About Generic Medication

You probably already know that generic prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications are often cheaper than the name-brand version. However, you may have questions over what exactly "generic" means, and if the lower price means the medication won't work as well. We’re here to help you learn the facts about generic medicine.
Fact #1: Generic drugs contain the same active ingredients
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines a generic medication as “a drug product that is comparable to a brand name/reference listed drug product in dosage form, strength, quality, and performance characteristics, and intended use.” The term generic refers to both over-the-counter and prescription medications that have no brand name or registered trademark. A familiar example of a brand name product is Tylenol®, whose generic term is acetaminophen.

The FDA imposes strict standards for the approval of generic drugs, and follows up on these standards through enforcement. Generic products purchased in the U.S. need to be the “bioequivalent” of a name brand, meaning they must have the same active ingredients as their brand counterpart.
Fact #2: Generic drugs are not available for all brand name products
The generic version of a drug is rarely made available until the original brand name manufacturer’s product goes “off patent,” at which time it is no longer subject to patent protection. It usually takes about 20 years for this to occur. Once the patent has expired, other drug companies can then manufacture and sell the generic version of the medication after the FDA has tested and approved it.

Fact #3: Generic prescriptions are required in some circumstances
Unless your doctor mandates on the prescription that no substitutions are permitted, pharmacists in most states are required to dispense the generic version of a drug. In addition, many insurance plans mandate that, when available, the generic form of a drug must be dispensed. To be certain you’re getting the savings available to you via generic alternatives, ask your pharmacist if substituting a generic form of your brand name prescription product is possible. Your pharmacist is trained to know which generic products are acceptable substitutes for the prescription medicine’s brand name product.
Fact #4: Generic forms sometimes cannot be used
Sometimes, a small variation in the amount of drug in the blood stream can make a big difference in how a medicine works. Consequently, switching from a brand to a generic form of the medicine is sometimes inadvisable. Before asking to be switched to a generic, you should always consult your doctor and pharmacist first.  
Fact #5: Generic drugs save you money
According to an economic analysis by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA), U.S. consumers save an average of $3 billion every week by buying generic alternatives over name-brand medication. The price of generic medications can be up to 90% less than name-brand prescription equivalents, with average savings closer to 80-85%, according to the FDA.

More on generic drugs and saving on prescriptions

For more tips about generic drugs, check out our free Live Healthy, Live Smart® eBook, which we’re offering to celebrate our 10th anniversary of helping individuals, families, and communities save money on their medication. For more facts and data on prescriptions, visit the FDA’s Facts About Generic Drugs and Understanding Generic Drugs fact page. For further information, check out WebMD’s guide to generic drugs.

Want to save even more on your prescriptions? Try using the free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, which is accepted at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide and covers all FDA approved prescription medications. You’ll get an average savings of 42% on medication costs - or sometimes, as high as 75%! Simply print out a card from FamilyWize.org or download the free FamilyWize app to start saving today.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Best Ways to Save on Prescription Medication

The rising cost of prescription medications is a huge burden for many Americans. The good news is that there are ways you can take control. Here are some great tips that can help you save money on your prescription medication.

Go Generic

Whenever the option is available, you can save substantially by choosing generic drugs over brand-name. Generic drugs have the same ingredients, dosage, intended use, side effects, and strength as the original drug. The only difference is that it’s usually much cheaper than its brand-name counterparts – in many cases, 30-80% less!

Compare Prices At Your Local Pharmacies

The cost of a drug can vary from one pharmacy to the next, sometimes significantly. When choosing a pharmacy, compare before you commit.

The FamilyWize  Drug Price Lookup Tool is the perfect tool for this. You can use the tool to check and compare prices at different pharmacies. Simply enter your zip code and the name of the drug you’ve been prescribed, and the tool will search your neighborhood, giving you a list of where the drug is available, and at what price.

Use a Prescription Savings Card

Our free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card saved an average of 42% off your retail prescription costs, or $29.14 per prescription, based on our data from 2014. In some cases, the savings with the card go as high as 75%! The FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card can oftentimes give you a better deal than your insurance, so whenever you go to the pharmacy, always show your FamilyWize card in addition to your insurance, and ask your pharmacist for the lowest price.

Use Common Savings Strategies

What works for saving money on general consumer purchases may also work with prescription purchases. For example:
  • Check out the pharmacy counters at big-box stores and club stores – they may offer better discounts than you can get through insurance.
  • If it’s a drug that you need long-term and that doesn’t expire too quickly, look for seasonal discounts or sales and stock up.
  • Look for offers and special deals from your local pharmacies.
  • If your insurance company doesn’t cover your medicine, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about alternatives that may be just as effective but cost less money.
  • See if your insurer has a preferred pharmacy or mail order service to help you get the best prices.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if you can eliminate any of them safely.
Remember, no matter which strategy you use to save, taking your medication is crucial to staying healthy. A 2013 Consumer Reports poll revealed that more than 50 percent of us are taking potentially dangerous risks to reduce costs associated with our prescriptions, such as skipping doses, taking expired drugs, or not filling our prescriptions at all.

For more common sense tips on prescription drug safety and cost savings strategies, check out our free Live Healthy, Live Smart® eBook. We’re offering you this free booklet of tips to celebrate our 10th anniversary of helping individuals, families, and communities save money on their medication.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What Should I Ask My Pharmacist?

Most people think of their pharmacist as someone who simply fills their prescriptions. They may not be aware that your pharmacist can be an excellent source for information and advice - not only when it comes to prescriptions, but also with nonprescription medications, herbal supplements, and safe use, storage, and disposal of medicine.

If you’re one of the 44 percent of Americans who regularly take prescription medication, this list of questions to ask could come in handy the next time you go to the pharmacy.
  • What is this pill supposed to do for me? If you take a lot of pills, it can get confusing as to what you’re taking and why. Don’t be embarrassed to ask your pharmacist about what the names of your medication are, what the ingredients are, and what the medication is supposed to do - in an emergency, this information could be critical.
  • How do I use this? There are many health aids that can be tricky to know how to use the first few times, such as inhalers or injections. Ask your pharmacist for guidance on items that may take special skills or understanding to use them properly.
  • How, when, and for how long should I take this medication? Medications are only optimally effective when used properly. That means knowing how long you should continue to use them, how many times a day you should take them, and how many you should take at a time. Some things that are good for you in one quantity or duration can be bad for you in another. For example, a short-course medicine, such as an antibiotic to treat an infection, may only be needed for 7-10 days, but must be taken for its full course of treatment, even if you begin to feel better sooner. Your pharmacist can guide you in all this!
  • Is there an optimal time to take this? Some medicines and supplements are best taken at night, because they can cause drowsiness. Others may have a stimulant effect and should best be taken early in the day. Ask your pharmacist if you’re not sure when the best time would be to take your medicine.
  • Can I take this on an empty stomach? What about with food? Some drugs can make you queasy if you don't take them with food. Other drugs may not work as well if taken with food. Your pharmacist can help guide you through any dietary restrictions with your medication.
  • How can I avoid any drug interaction issues? Certain things can interfere with the effectiveness of your medicine. Even something as simple as sunlight exposure can be a problem with certain drugs. Be sure to ask what is safe to do while taking your medicines. To give you the best answer, your pharmacist may need a complete list of medicines you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter, and herbal products, so have one ready when you call or visit your pharmacy.
  • What's the best way to store or dispose of my medications? How long a drug stays safe or effective often depends on how it is stored. In addition, when you have outdated drugs or medications that you no longer need, keeping them in your home can be a risk to others or yourself. Your pharmacist is an expert on the best way to dispose of drugs.
For more valuable pharmacy and medication tips, download our free Live Healthy, Live Smart® eBook. We’re offering this booklet to celebrate our tenth anniversary of helping individuals, families, and communities save money on their medication - click the link for your free copy, and get more great tips on medication savings and safety!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, October 19, 2015

FamilyWize Turns 10!

October is a major milestone in FamilyWize history - it's our 10th birthday! Since 2005, we have worked tirelessly to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.

Originally, we were only focused on Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, where our headquarters is located. However, as our operations have expanded, so has our focus; we now provide prescription savings to consumers in every state!

We are able to provide these discounts by way of our free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card and our extensive network of partner programs. Today, that network includes the United Way, the National Council on Aging, and the American Heart Association, among others.

With help from these partners, we’ve been able to help more than 8.8 million people save over $925 million dollars on their medication costs.

Ray Bullman, Executive Vice President of the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), another FamilyWize partner, says, “FamilyWize has a long tradition of delivering value to consumers and raising awareness of the need to talk about medications, from access to affordability to advocacy, through their partners. We congratulate them on their successful 10-year milestone and look forward to working together to promote safe, smart prescription use.”

To make this anniversary even more significant, we’ve just launched a new educational campaign in support of "Talk About Your Medicines Month," established 30 years ago by NCPIE in an effort to promote the wise use of medicines through trusted communication for better health.

The centerpiece of our campaign is the release of our Live Healthy. Live Smart.® eBook. This free educational guide provides valuable information about prescription medications — from what you should ask your pharmacist, to how to get the best prices at the pharmacy, to how to dispose of your medication safely.

"We are thrilled to partner with NCPIE as part of Talk About Your Medicines month and our own 10th Anniversary. We believe that it is critical that all consumers not only have access to the medications they need, but also have access to information on issues surrounding prescription medications, whether that be the importance of taking your prescriptions regularly or how to save on prescription medication costs,” said Joseph Sanginiti, President and COO of FamilyWize.

To get your free eBook of helpful pharmacy tips and advice, click here to download it or read it online. The eBook also includes a FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, which is accepted at over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide and can help you save an average of 42% on prescription medication. Here's to another decade of helping people save!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Did You Get Your Flu Shot Yet?

Each year, the flu is responsible for infecting millions, causing hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and resulting in thousands of deaths. In addition, the flu can be costly and result in missed time at work and school. A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that parents spent between $300 and $400 in flu-related medical expenses for their children in 2012. In addition, parents reportedly missed between 11 and 73 days of work caring for children affected by the flu.

The flu can and does affect individuals of all ages. However, certain groups are more at risk than others:

  • Men and women 65 years of age and older.
  • Children younger than 5 years old are especially susceptible to the flu. Studies indicate that 2 year old children are at particular risk.
  • Those with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, AIDS and HIV put individuals at higher risk for complications of the flu.
  • Pregnant women.
Medical professionals agree that getting a flu vaccine is the most important step you can take to prevent the flu. The CDC recommends a flu vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older. Unfortunately, many individuals don’t get their flu shots due to the cost.

In preparation for flu season, FamilyWize is working with Walgreens to help curtail this costly and potentially deadly virus by distributing thousands of free flu shot vouchers to individuals across the country. Visit the FamilyWize website for a list of event dates and locations.

Since the program’s inception in 2011, Walgreens, together with the U.S. Department of Health and Human services and organizations such as FamilyWize, has helped to distribute more than $40 million worth of flu shot vouchers. It’s just one of the ways FamilyWize has been helping families and communities stay healthy and save money for over ten years.

If you don’t already have a FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, cards will be available at all of the flu shot events. While other cards may require registration or a membership fee, the FamilyWize Presscription Savings Card is free to use and may provide additional savings on medication costs. The FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card is accepted at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide.

FamilyWize and Walgreens are making it easier than ever to get your flu shot. So, don’t forget to protect yourself and your family from the flu this season by taking advantage of this opportunity!

Live Healthy. Live Smart.