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.
-FamilyWize

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Drugs & Diabetes: Six Cost-Saving Strategies


According to the CDC, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 600,000 deaths annually. It also creates high health costs for many families, with sources estimating the national cost of diabetes at over $132 billion a year. If you suffer from diabetes, these six tips can help you ease those costs and stay healthy.
Tip #1: Use mail-order services for prescription discounts
Under Obamacare, Medicare now has a National Mail-Order Program, which can save you quite a bit on lancets, test strips, batteries, and other common diabetes supplies. Plus, it’s all delivered straight to your door, which can save you time and gas.
Tip #2: Use Obamacare’s free preventative care options
Most of the plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are required to provide free preventive care services, which would include screening for diabetes if you’re an adult with high blood pressure or if you’re pregnant. Though the coverage rules vary by state, ACA’s free preventive care also includes medical nutrition therapy for those with diabetes.
Tip #3: Use your FSA
If your employer offers benefit plans with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can save substantially – up to 30% – on your out-of-pocket medical expenses.

The way a Flexible Spending Account works is by letting you set aside pre-tax money from your salary to put towards expected medical expenses. By doing this, you effectively reduce your taxable income. You can then use the money you set aside to cover many medical expenses not covered by your health plan, such as copays and over-the-counter medications.
Tip #4: Use a free discount prescription card
You can save an average of 42% on your prescriptions by using the free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card or the FamilyWize smartphone app.  To download the app, follow these links to the Apple App StoreGoogle Play, or the Windows Store. Last year, the FamilyWize card saved over $175 million on prescriptions!
Tip #5: Take advantage of other discounts via coupons and rebates
There are many things you can do as part of your regular shopping routine to save money. For example:
  • Watch the weekly ad flyers or coupon books coming to you in the mail from your drug store.
  • Keep an eye on your area drugstores’ websites for digital coupons you can print or save on your phone.
  • Ask if your pharmacy has a loyalty program. A higher volume customer, such as a person with diabetes, can often get frequent discounts on general merchandise or even prescription medications.
Tip #6: Go generic
Buying generic (unbranded) versions of drugs can reduce your cost of diabetes care, sometimes significantly.  Read more on the cost advantages of buying generic drugs at WebMD.

The most important thing: Do not let limited funds keep you from your necessary diabetes drugs.  According to a 2004 University of Michigan study, 11 percent of diabetes patients skip diabetes medication doses because of the high cost. Inevitably (as confirmed by other studies), this worsens blood sugar control. By using the tips provided here, you can help ensure you're leading a savings-smart, healthy life.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cost-Cutting Tricks for Everyday Items

Consumers everywhere are on the look-out for cost-cutting tricks to use for everyday items, from groceries and clothing to prescription medications and entertainment. For these everyday purchases, there are plenty of ways for savvy shoppers to apply numerous cost-cutting tricks. Here are a few ways:


Groceries: Whether you clip coupons or rely on smartphone applications, there are plenty of opportunities to apply cost-cutting tricks to your purchases at the grocery store. Check out sites such as coupons.com or smartsource.com for great savings on grocery items. Also, consider sharing a warehouse membership with another family, and enjoy additional savings on everyday items.

Prescription Drugs: A simple way to apply savings to prescription drugs is by using the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card at your pharmacy. The card is free to for all consumers - both insured and uninsured - with no registration or membership fee, and it can garner significant savings on your prescription medications. Additional cost-cutting tips for prescriptions include:

  • Asking about generic prescription drugs, which are often less expensive than name brands, but just as effective.
  • Checking out your insurance provider’s preferred pharmacy and mail-order options for your prescription drug needs.
  • Speaking with the pharmacist regarding cash pricing on prescription drugs.

Clothing: There are many ways to save on everyday items such as clothing. Here are a few cost-cutting tips:

  • Before shopping, check out sites such as Saving Star and Retail Me Not for deals and coupons.
  • Shop sale and clearance merchandise first for savings on clothing.
  • Consider second-hand, especially for designer goods and larger ticket items such as winter coats and boots.
  • Ditch dry-clean only merchandise. Over time this cost-cutting trick alone will result in savings in the clothing department.

Entertainment: Readers can try free electronic downloads from Project Gutenberg, or borrow books from the public library. While foodies can look for deals through sites such as Eatdrinkdeals.com to enjoy savings and deals at a variety of restaurants. In addition, for a less costly way to enjoy on-screen entertainment, movie fanatics can replace going to the movies with a movie night at home.

Other:  Cost-cutting tricks can apply to items such as energy costs, too.  Programs such as the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) help provide financial assistance and services to cut heating and cooling costs. In addition, apps such as Gas Buddy allow users to check out the cheapest gasoline prices in the area. Compare cell phone, cable television, and Internet plans by using My Rate Plan and check out a variety of plans and determine the most appropriate one for your specific needs.

With all the cost-cutting tricks available for everyday items, it’s easier than ever for consumers to save money. By incorporating cost-cutting tricks, you can enjoy the same lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
-FamilyWize

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why Even The Insured Are Paying Too Much For Prescriptions

You probably think that if you have health insurance, you’re covered when it comes to medications. However, even with insurance, you could still be spending too much - it many cases, it's not the cheapest option. There are many ways to save on prescriptions, and insurance isn't always going to lead you to the best savings. Insured or uninsured, here’s what you can do to make sure you're saving effectively, every time.

Using your insurance may not be your most cost-effective option

Using your insurance coverage may actually cost you more, in some cases. Here are some tips for finding the best price:

  • Use a discount card, such as the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, and you may see savings of up to 75% off the retail price. Unlike some discount cards, the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card does not charge a registration or membership fee, and it's free and easy to use.
  • Consider paying cash for medications. In a few cases, this might equate to savings greater than using insurance. Always ask your pharmacist for the retail price of a medication so that you can compare.

Don’t forget generic brands

The generic version of a medication is often less expensive than one with a brand name. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure a generic is right for you and your particular medical condition.

Find out your insurance’s “preferred” pharmacy

Some commercial insurance and Medicare plans offer savings on prescription drugs if you use a specific pharmacy. For drugs that you use long-term (typically 3 months or more), you can often see savings by buying a supply that will last longer.

Try therapy in steps

This practice, known as “step therapy,” involves trying less expensive medication options first. If these options are ineffective, try more expensive options. You may experience savings if you never need to take the most expensive medication for your condition.

Do an annual review

Experts recommend an annual review with your healthcare provider of any medications, supplements or vitamins you take. You may often be able to eliminate something from your current regimen, which results in a lower medication expenses for you.

Just like when it comes to shopping for clothes or groceries, being a savvy shopper when it comes to medications can result in cost savings everyone can enjoy.

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
-FamilyWize



Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Donut Hole is Real

If you're covered under Medicare Part D, the “donut hole” is real, and can dramatically affect the cost of your prescriptions. Here’s how and why.

What is the Medicare donut hole?

The "donut hole" is a coverage gap in certain Medicare prescription drug plans. This gap is a temporary limit on what the plan will cover.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance program Medicare gives qualified recipients (people 65 or older, people under 65 with certain disabilities, and a few others) the option of paying a monthly premium for outpatient prescription drug coverage. This section is called Medicare Part D.

With Medicare Part D, you pay a monthly premium, plus the full price of your medication until you reach the $310 deductible amount. After meeting this deductible, you pay 25 percent of your prescription drug costs, until the total spending between you and your plan reaches a certain limit ($2,960 in 2015, or $3,310 in 2016).

After you hit this limit, the coverage gap, or “donut hole,” begins. You are now responsible for 45 percent of the cost of covered brand-name prescription drugs until you reach the yearly out-of-pocket spending limit (which differs from year to year), after which coverage kicks back in.

Reducing the wallet impact of the donut hole

If you're looking to save during the coverage gap, switching over to generics could be a good option. Medicare pays 35 percent of the price for generic drugs during the coverage gap, as opposed to 45 percent for brand-name. More good news: the percentage you pay for generics during the coverage gap will decrease each year until it reaches 25 percent in 2020.

However, even with these discounts on generics, the Medicare “donut hole” can make it hard for senior citizens without any supplemental plan to pay for their prescriptions. This is a good reason to look into the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card. It’s free to obtain and use, and gives you discounts on prescriptions, whether you're insured or uninsured. There’s no registration required, and using the card when buying prescription drugs can save you up to 75 percent.

Just show the FamilyWize card to your pharmacist the next time you pick up a prescription, and ask them to compare the discount offered by the card to the discount offered by your insurance. In many cases, the FamilyWize price is often the better deal. You can also check the price and compare before picking up by using our Drug Price Lookup tool, available on our website or through the smartphone app (just search "FamilyWize" on your smartphone's app store).

You can also check to see if you qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help options for paying Part D, which prevents you from entering the coverage gap. Also, check out the Medicare website’s Part D section for further information on the donut hole gap, with scenarios to help explain it.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer