Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What Should I Know About Prescription Savings Cards?

Prescription savings cards, like the one offered by FamilyWize, are offered by a number of different organizations, ranging from local government and pharmaceutical companies to non-profit organizations and large retail chains. These cards can save consumers money on prescription drugs. However, if you haven't used them before, you may have some questions. What's important to know about prescription savings card, and how can they help you save money?

The basics about prescription savings cards
A prescription savings card is not insurance. Instead, it provides immediate savings at the pharmacy at the time you purchase medications. There are no claim forms to fill out - just present the card at your pharmacy when you pick up your prescription and the savings will be automatically applied by your pharmacist. To receive benefits through your prescription savings card, you must use a pharmacy that participates in the savings program offered by the card. The card you choose should provide you with a listing of affiliated pharmacies.

What if I have insurance coverage?
Prescription savings cards are not used in conjunction with your insurance coverage - when buying a prescription, you must use one or the other. However, in many cases, the savings offered by the card can mean you end up paying a lower price than if you had used your insurance. If you have insurance coverage, your pharmacist can help you determine how to get the best price. If a prescription medication you need is not covered by your insurance, or if you have insurance with a high deductible, a savings card can be a great alternative.

For individuals with Medicare coverage, a prescription savings card may be used if you are in the Medicare "donut hole" or if you do not have Plan D or another supplemental plan.

How can I choose the right prescription savings card for me? 
There are a few things to consider when selecting a prescription savings card:

Check for a fee. Some prescription savings cards might charge a membership fee to join their program, which could cost you more than any discounts you would receive. Always ask about fees prior to signing up for a card.

Are there any restrictions or eligibility requirements? In some cases, certain medications may not be covered, or other limitations may apply. It’s important to always be aware of eligibility requirements and restrictions when using a prescription savings card. In addition, some prescription savings cards may only allow you to use them on a restricted basis. You should be aware of such restrictions associated with your card.

According to The National Consumers League, discount cards can be a great way to save on prescription medicine. As with any program, it’s important to do research to determine the card that best meets your individual needs.

This year, FamilyWize celebrates its 10th anniversary helping individuals, families and communities save on medications. Our card, the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, is free to all consumers, insured or uninsured, and has no eligibility requirements. In addition, the card offers unlimited usage, so friends and family members can receive discounts, too. Anyone can request a card by printing a card through FamilyWize.org or by calling 1-800-222-2818. Try it today and start saving!

Live Healthy. Live Smart.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

'Tis the Season to Save!

The holiday season is here! While many people look forward to this time of year, holiday spending can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed and financially strapped come January. Check out the tips below for great ways to save during the gift-buying season.

Make a list
Experts suggest making a list and really sticking to it. It might seem like a common-sense step, but many people simply don’t do it - and end up doing a lot of impulse shopping as a result. A holiday shopping list can help you curb those off-the-cuff shopping decisions and lead to a better-managed budget.

Use cash
Consumers reportedly spend 12-18% more when they use credit cards. Stick with cash wherever possible, and you're more likely t!o curb your spending and stay within your holiday budget.

Be a savvy shopper
There are several apps out there that allow you to find the best price on an item. For example, the FamilyWize app is free to download and use can save you money on prescriptions every time you go to the pharmacy - just show it when you're picking up your prescription and ask for the best price.

You can also check out coupons through sites and apps such as Retailmenot. Whether you prefer printed coupons, smartphone apps or loyalty cards, there are plenty of ways to save on holiday purchases, provided you know where to look.

If you're planning on using air travel, make plans early to get the best savings on a flight. Also, shipping bags and gifts ahead of time might result in saving on checked baggage. Flying on the holiday itself is also a way to make sure you get the best savings on airfare. Generally, traveling by car will save you money, if it’s feasible to drive to your destination.

Save on power this season by using LED lights to decorate your home, which use 99% less energy than traditional bulbs. If you're looking for a change in holiday décor without the additional cost, arrange a trade with friends and family members. You’ll enjoy a change in decorations this season without the added price tag.

Focus on activities, not gifts.
This is a great time of year to focus on festive seasonal activities such as viewing the lights in the neighborhood or going to holiday events in your area. Making great memories with your family and friends will last much longer than the latest popular gift.

Finally, don’t forget to save on medication this season, and throughout the year, by using the FamilyWize prescription savings card.
It’s free and anyone can request a card by printing a card through FamilyWize or by calling 1-800-222-2818. You can also get the app on your iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone. Happy holidays, and remember to enjoy the savings!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Drug Costs & Cancer: 3 Savings Strategies

Current estimates show that roughly a third of all Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. After the initial shock of the diagnosis, the next shock is usually the cost of treatment.

Many cancer patients report exhausting their life savings on cancer drugs, or going bankrupt trying to cover the cost of their treatment. When the average family in the U.S. earns about $52,000/year, but cancer prescriptions often add up to $120,000/year – with an insured patient’s copay responsibility for the drugs running as much as $30,000,  according to NPR stats – it’s easy to see why patients and medical professionals are describing the situation as economically unsustainable. One study shows that, even adjusting for inflation and other factors, anticancer drugs approved between 1995 and 2013 rose 10 percent yearly – roughly $8,500 every year! That same research showed that the cost of drugs for each year the cancer patient lived grew from $54,000 in 1995 to $207,000 in 2013.

And unfortunately, these rising cancer drug costs are resulting in about 10-20% of cancer patients skipping their treatment, according to this 2013 study.

But in spite of the dark picture that news headlines paint regarding the cost of cancer drugs, there are steps you can take to reduce your spending if you or a loved one is being treated. We’ll cover some of those strategies here.

1. Spend less per prescription using prescription discounts

For those whose medical condition is one that requires more expensive prescription medications, such as cancer treatment drugs, the value of saving through shaving the cost off of each prescription by a few percentage points can be a substantial savings strategy. And it’s even better when the patient can get a discount card that is free! The no-cost FamilyWize card helps you to instantly to start saving up to 75 percent on your prescriptions.
Just print out your personal FamilyWize card (or use our online form to request a mailed FamilyWize card), show it at any of our participating pharmacies nationwide, and ask for the lowest price on your prescriptions.
2. Reach out to the drug companies
If you need a specific drug, some pharmaceutical companies provide assistance to more financially-strapped patients. These patient assistance programs are operated by the drug companies themselves, and in some cases, provide free medications to those who can’t afford them. Check out the list of participating companies at Rx Assist.
3. Ask your doctor for alternatives
In the evolving world of anticancer drug options, it never hurts to ask your doctor about alternative treatments that may achieve the same results at a lower cost. For example, one doctor’s recent research on alternative treatments for colon cancer looked at Zaltrap and Avastin – two drugs that serve similar colon cancer conditions/development states and work similarly on the condition, with both drugs extending median survival by about one and a half months. However, Zaltrap’s monthly cost was $11,000/month, significantly higher than Avistin’s $5,000/month.

While the cost of treatment can be high, taking your medication as prescribed by your doctor is extremely important. Always make sure to explore your savings options before taking a risk with your health!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Taking Steps to Reduce Prescription Costs

According to the CDC, nearly 20 percent of the $263 billion spent yearly on retail prescription drugs in the the U.S. was paid out of pocket. And according to the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI), per-person spending on prescription drugs is now over $700 per year. And for those in the 55-64 age bracket, it's even higher, at more than $1,700 per year.

HCCI’s latest stats also show that health care spending grew nearly three and a half percent in 2014 alone, with most of that increase going to brand name drugs – a $45 jump in per-person spending! The cost of prescriptions went up - even though we used nearly 16% fewer brand prescriptions than in 2013. Women are feeling the pinch the hardest; out-of-pocket spending on prescriptions by women has been higher than spending by men every year since 2010.

With prescription spending high and statistics showing a steady rate of increase over the past five years, it’s time to take constructive steps to manage your prescription costs.

Take steps to reduce your prescription costs

Data from the National Health Interview Survey showed that, to save money, almost 8 percent of U.S. adults did not take their medication as prescribed, which can be dangerous. Specifically:
  • Adults under 64 were nearly twice as likely as adults older than 65 to have not taken their medication as prescribed to save money
  • Among adults under age 64, uninsured adults were more likely than those with Medicaid or private coverage to have not taken their medication as prescribed to save money
  • The poorest adults were the most likely to not take medication as prescribed to reduce prescription spending
  • Some adults ameliorate their prescription costs by reducing the dosage and frequency recommended
Rather than taking a potentially serious risk to manage your costs, consider the following smarter strategies to safely reduce your spending:
  • Ask your doctor if a less expensive but equally effective medication is available. For example, there are time-released brand name drugs prescribed to treat ADHD that can cost 10 to 20 times more per month than the non-time-released version of Ritalin
  • Buy generic versions of drugs whenever your doctor/pharmacist agrees to this cost-saving alternative to name brand drugs
  • Use the free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card or FamilyWize smartphone app, available in the Apple App StoreGoogle Play, or the Windows Store - this can save you as much as 75% off the cost of your prescriptions, and guarantees you'll get the lowest price
  • See if you may qualify for free preventive care services under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - the right preventive care can sometimes keep you from needing a prescription at all
  • If you are on Medicare, use the Medicare National Mail-Order Program, which not only saves on ongoing prescription costs, but on gas money as well
  • If you receive insurance through your work, check to see if your employer has a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) benefit, which can save you as much as 30% yearly on out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Check your mail’s weekly ad flyers and coupon books, which may have neighborhood drug store discounts on prescription drugs
  • Join your pharmacy’s loyalty program if they have one
  • Use the FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool, which can help you compare prices at different pharmacies in your area
For more cost savings strategies, download our free Live Healthy, Live Smart® eGuide, written by an expert pharmacist with over 30 years of experience.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Medicine Cabinet 101: What You Need to Know

Your medicine cabinet isn’t something you probably think about often. However, it's one of the most important parts of any home, and failing to take care of it could lead to serious consequences. Here’s what you should know about your medicine cabinet in order to stay safe and healthy.

According to the National Health Service, basic supplies you should keep stocked in your medicine cabinet include:

Pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen
Antihistamine tablets and creams to treat allergies and insect bites
Bandages, sterile dressings and tape in a variety of sizes for cuts, sprains and other injuries
Antiseptic to clean cuts
A thermometer to check for fever
Tweezers to remove splinters
Eyewash solution to dislodge dirt, grit and other eye irritants

While this is just a basic list, your pharmacist can help you determine other products you should have on hand based on your family’s individual needs. Don't be afraid to ask your local pharmacist for tips and advice when it comes to your medication!

Despite what most people may assume, your medicine cabinet isn’t necessarily the best place to store your prescriptions, which are best kept in a cool, dry place. Medicine cabinets are typically not suggested because of the moisture and humidity in the bathroom. However, your medicine cabinet is a great place to stock any of the supplies listed above.

When it comes to disposing of medication, it’s important to check all of your items regularly for expiration dates. Even common over-the-counter items such as pain reliever, antihistamine, antiseptic and eyewash solution should be disposed of in a proper manner. There are several ways to safely dispose of medication:

Medicine take-back programs are a good way to dispose of medicines, according to the FDA. Check Dispose My Meds for help with locating a drug disposal program in your area.

Flushing your medicines is acceptable in some cases, but not always. Check with your pharmacist about whether your medication may be safely flushed.

 If no other means of disposal is available or appropriate, you can mix medicines with something that is unappealing, such as kitty litter, dirt or used coffee grounds, and put the mixture in a sealed plastic bag before throwing it away. Always make sure you remove the labeling on any empty pill bottles or packaging before disposing of the container to ensure privacy.

If you’re looking for more helpful hints to stay safe with your medications and supplies, check out the free FamilyWize 10th Anniversary eBook. It's a great way to ensure you're staying smart when it comes to your medications, and is written by an expert pharmacist with over three decades of experience.

And don’t forget to use your FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card when purchasing your medications! The card is free to all consumers, insured and uninsured, has no eligibility requirements, and features unlimited use. Showing the card to your pharmacist when you pick up your prescription guarantees you'll get the lowest price - last year, users of the FamilyWize card saved an average of 42%. Print out a card today by going to FamilyWize.org, order one by calling 1-800-222-2818, or download the free app available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phones!

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Huffington Post: 8 Questions To Ask Your Pharmacist

More than 4 billion prescriptions were filled at retail pharmacies in 2014, according to data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Of those prescriptions, roughly half to three-quarters were used incorrectly, says pharmacist Linda Bernstein, a volunteer clinical professor at University of California-San Francisco School of Pharmacy and a spokeswoman for familywize.org. Whether it’s a medication you’ve been taking for 20 years or just a few days, it’s important to ask your pharmacist these seemingly obvious but crucial questions…

To learn which questions you should be asking, read the full article from Huffington Post Healthy Living here

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.