Monday, November 7, 2016

How to Be Your Own Medical Advocate

In 2013, the Journal of Patient Safety reported that 210,000 deaths per year were associated with preventable harm in hospitals — that’s one-sixth of all U.S. deaths annually! This isn’t just limited to hospitals; routine visits with your doctor or pharmacist can also be the cause of preventable mistakes. To help protect yourself and your health, your best course of action is to be your own advocate for your medical care. The following tips will guide you in what you can do to receive safe and effective treatment.

#1 — Ask for that second opinion

If you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor or their diagnosis, you should seek out a second opinion. You may be worried that this is an insult to your doctor, but it’s not – they understand that you want a relationship with someone that you feel comfortable with. A second doctor may appeal more to your personality or needs, and their analysis may potentially lead to a different diagnosis or treatment option.

#2 — Consult with Dr. Google

Yes, the accuracy of medical information online varies. But, knowledge of your own health issue is critical to getting the help you need – so do your research. Ask your doctor for information about your condition and take notes. Back home, learn all you can about your doctor’s diagnosis or treatment plan. With a constant stream of new medical discoveries, it’s possible your doctor hasn’t yet heard about a new treatment option. If you have questions, write them down and follow up with your doctor – or a new doctor.

#3 — Advocate for the best prescription drug pricing

It’s often up to the patient to secure the lowest price on prescriptions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if a more affordable option is available. Then use the free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card to ensure that you always get the lowest price. Get the card or app, show it to your pharmacist, and receive an average of 43% savings on the cost of your prescriptions. You can also use the FamilyWize Drug Price Lookup Tool to comparison shop for the pharmacy with the best price for your particular prescription.

#4 — Consult with your pharmacist

Your pharmacist is an expert in medication, but they need to know your medical history and current medications so they can advise you regarding any contraindications. Adverse drug events (wrong drug, wrong dosage, etc.) can result in major health complications, so get your pharmacist on your team.

#5 — Don’t get a newbie for your surgery

It’s your right to ask your surgeon how many times they have performed your procedure. More experience usually equates to reduced risk. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about their background.

#6 — Consider hospital affiliation when you choose your primary care physician

Familiarizing yourself with the reputations of the hospitals in your region can save your life. Nearly all primary care physicians (PCP) are affiliated with a particular hospital. Research your options and their safety records and reports on quality of care, and consider choosing your doctor based on the hospital you feel most comfortable with. You’ll thank yourself if you end up in the hospital for any reason.

#7 – Get and read your medical records

Whenever you leave a visit with a doctor or healthcare provider, ask for copies of your visit notes and any x-rays or other scans you may have had. Having these in your possession allows you to research your situation and more easily seek out alternative opinions.

In short, no one can care for your health like you do. Be your own medical advocate: Ask questions, be observant, and do your research.

Monday, October 24, 2016

2017 Brings Cuts in Covered Medications!

Open Enrollment is the one time of year when you may make changes to your health insurance plan (aside from a qualifying event). As you’re researching your options, there’s some important information about your drug coverage that you’ll want to know. In the coming year, many previously covered prescription drugs will be excluded by insurance companies. If any of your prescriptions are on the list of excluded drugs, this change will directly affect your wallet, leaving you to pay full price at the pharmacy.

There are two reasons that this is happening: Hyperinflation of prices and the availability of “biosimilars” — not identical but similar medications to an expensive drug. Hyperinflation is a term for drugs that have had massive price hikes. When a biosimilar alternative exists, these carriers refuse to cover the hyperinflated drug to force drug companies to lower their prices, which can ultimately save us, the consumer, significantly.

This isn’t the first time popular drugs have been dropped from coverage. Just this year, Qsymia, Abilify, Viagra, and others were dropped coverage. In 2017, several expensive cancer drugs and hepatitis C medications will also be dropped. Adjustments to the list of covered drugs are likely to occur annually.

As a result, it’s important to take the time to make sure you’re ready for the coming changes:
  • Review the list of drugs being dropped from each company’s formularies for 2017.
  • Consider switching insurance providers if you require a specific prescription that will no longer be covered. 
  • If you’re blindsided by a drug no longer being covered, it is possible to appeal the coverage decision with your insurance provider. To get your drug covered through the exceptions process, see the requirements here
  • Some insurance companies will provide a one-time refill for your medication after you first enroll. Ask your insurance company if they offer a one-time refill until you can discuss next steps with your doctor.
While coverage is changing, one thing you can continue to count on is the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, which is available to you at no cost, and can save you an average of 43% off the cost of your medications.

If you don’t already have one, you can download a free card online today or request a card by calling 1-800-222-2818. You can also get the free FamilyWize app, available for both Android at the Google Play Store and Apple Devices (iPhone and iPad) at the App Store.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Medicare Open Enrollment Tips

Are you ready for Medicare Open Enrollment? If not, you need to get ready! Open Enrollment is only October 15 through December 7, and there are penalties for missing the window; it’s worth a few minutes of your time today to prepare yourself. Open Enrollment can be confusing, so we’re sharing seven tips to help you understand what your Medicare options and requirements are.

Open Enrollment Tip 1 — Don’t Just Re-Up but Re-Evaluate

Even if you’re already enrolled in a Medicare health plan, it’s important to understand that the Open Enrollment period is largely about reevaluating your current Medicare Advantage or Part D plan, or both.

The big question you should be asking yourself is, “Do I need to change my plan or should I stay with my current plan?” The answer to that question begins with finding the answers to these related questions:
  • Has anything changed in my life?
  • Has anything changed in the plan I’m on? 
  • Has anything changed in the other plans available to me?
If nothing has changed significantly in any of those three areas, then your best strategy might be to stay with your current plan. Odds are though that at least one of these three things has changed. Take the time to go through the plans, looking for the option that best meets your needs.

Open Enrollment Tip 2 — Check Your Health

When you previously selected Medicare coverage, your health was a major factor. If you experienced a change in health status during the past 12 months, you’ve likely put your insurance plan to use, giving you a chance to evaluate the out-of-pocket costs and the quality of care you received. If it was not satisfactory, you should look for a plan that would offer improvements.

Open Enrollment Tip 3 — Evaluate Cost vs. Benefit

Oftentimes a more expensive plan comes with a wider range of benefits. This may have been appealing if you were thinking, “Better safe than sorry.” But that plan’s monthly payments may have proven to be more of a cost burden than you expected, especially if any of your other expenses have increased. Or, maybe you selected a lower-cost plan and now feel you’re feeling burdened by co-pays. In either case, a plan change may be exactly what you need.

Open Enrollment Tip 4 — Verify That Your Plan Features Match Your Lifestyle

There are measurable cost differences between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Part C plans) are more affordable, but come with more restrictions, such as being more geographically localized to your home area. If you plan to spend a lot of time away from home (think snowbirds), you may be better off with Original Medicare rather than a Medicare Advantage plan.

Open Enrollment Tip 5 — Look at Prescription Drug Coverage

Many factors influence your choice for prescription drug coverage. These include:
  • Choosing no insurance because you feel you can cover the cost of your prescription drugs on your own
  • Enrolling in a Part D drug plan 
  • Choosing a Medicare Advantage plan that already includes drug coverage 
  • Getting your coverage through an employer or via your VA benefits 
  • Using a state-based Prescription Assistance Program, if available in your state
Keep in mind that you’re a year older now than when you last evaluated your options. As we age, the likelihood of needing prescription drugs goes up, and often substantially if, for instance, you develop a chronic condition that requires ongoing medication. So, if you are not already covered adequately to meet a changing medical status, use Open Enrollment to fix that.

Open Enrollment Tip 6 — Take a 1-Minute Quiz

Are you still feeling unsure and overwhelmed? Before making any decisions about switching your coverage during Open Enrollment, take this short Medicare Questionnaire, created by The National Council on Aging (NCOA), one of our partners. It gives you advice about how to choose the best plan for your needs, and about whether to change your Medicare plan during Open Enrollment.

Open Enrollment Tip 7 — Beware the Donut Hole!

The “donut hole” is a coverage gap in certain Medicare Prescription Drug Plans that begins after you reach a certain dollar amount for covered drug purchases in a calendar year. This gap can significantly affect your prescription costs. But you can lessen its impact on your wallet by using the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card. It’s free and anyone can use the card – insured or not. There are no qualifications to use the card, and it can save you an average of 43% off the cost of your prescription medications.

All you have to do is show the FamilyWize card (or app) to your pharmacist the next time you pick up a prescription and ask them to compare the discount offered by the card to the price you would pay otherwise. In many cases, the FamilyWize price proves to be the better deal.

And don’t forget to comparison shop. You can check the price for your prescription at all participating pharmacies in a selected region using our Drug Price Lookup Tool, available on our website or through our app (just search "FamilyWize" in your smartphone's app store). Then you can fill your prescription at the most affordable location.

With a little bit of effort, you can confidently manage your Medicare plan and prescription coverage. Take the time to do your research and prepare – especially during Open Enrollment!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Tell Us About Your Experience and Save!

If you read our blog or follow us on social media, chances are you’ve already taken advantage of the no-cost FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, and benefitted from the savings available to you by using it. If so, then you have a story worth sharing, and we want to hear it! Enter your story about using the FamilyWize card or app in the FamilyWize Milestones Sweepstakes for a chance to win one of 31 great prizes.

The milestones are a story in themselves ...

Thanks to the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card:
  • More than 10 million people have saved on their prescriptions!
  • More than $1 billion was saved by FamilyWize cardholders!
The Milestones Sweepstakes celebrates these notable milestones, but ...

What we really want to hear is your story!

In the words of our President and Chief Operating Officer Joseph Sanginiti, “We are so thankful to have been able to help millions of families save an average of 43% on their prescription medications. We know first hand that these savings can save lives. And we’re proud to help.” And so finding out how the card has affected you means everything to us!

In your own words, tell us how the card has helped you to more easily afford the medications you need to live a healthy life. Your words will tell the story better than our own ever could because you are our story.

What you could win in our sweepstakes

Everyone who enters the contest will be eligible to win one of our 31 prizes, including:
  • A $500 grand prize gift card you can use at a local pharmacy or grocery store of your choice!
  • 20 gift cards worth $50 each to the local pharmacy or grocery store of your choice! 
  • 10 wristwatch-style Bluetooth pedometers to help you get healthy!
Even if you haven’t used the FamilyWize card or app yet – you can still enter! Simply tell us your experience using other savings cards.

Tips for writing your story

Need ideas for getting started with your story? Consider these:
  • Were you surprised by the amount you saved with the FamilyWize card? Tell us about it.
  • Are your prescription needs more than most? If so, your story could be about the collective savings you expect to realize over the course of the month or year. Tell us about it. 
  • Were you surprised/impressed by how easy it was to get or use your card at the pharmacy? Tell us about it. 
  • Has using the FamilyWize card made it possible to afford the prescriptions that, without it, you might have not purchased? Tell us about it.

Entering is this easy

1. Visit the contest page for all the information you need.

2. Select the option to enter and follow the simple steps.

3. Share your story about how you have saved with your FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card or your experience with other savings cards.

If you’re a winner, we’ll contact you within 30 days of the end of the sweepstakes. Regardless of whether your story is chosen or not, we appreciate you and hope that you continue to save with FamilyWize and live a healthy life.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Tips for Using the FamilyWize App

With the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card anyone, insured or not, can save an average of 43% on the cost of their prescriptions. We understand that not everyone wants to carry a physical card with them to the pharmacy. No room in your wallet? No problem. Just download the FamilyWize app to start saving today!

These tips on how to download and use the app will ensure that you never pay full price for your prescriptions! The best part? The app is free for all devices!

Here’s how you can get started.
  1. First, find it! You can find the FamilyWize app in both the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
    Or, on our website, go to the Get Your Free Card page and click the Get the App link.
    The app is essentially a digital version of our prescription savings card. Simply hand your phone to the pharmacist every time you fill a prescription – you don’t need to print anything out. You’ll get immediate savings on your purchase, with or without health insurance.
  2. Locate a participating pharmacy. One of the main reasons people use the FamilyWize app is to find a participating pharmacy. The app makes this easy. Simply enter your preferred search location by zip code, and the app shows you which pharmacies nearby accept the FamilyWize card. 
  3. Widen your search to find the drug you need. If you don’t see the drug you need at your regular pharmacy, continue scrolling to see other pharmacies. Pharmacies will be listed in distance order – pharmacies closest to your zip code will appear first. 
  4. Compare prices around town! The Drug Price Lookup Tool is also available on the FamilyWize app, just like the website! The same drug can sometimes vary in price dramatically – especially brand versus generic formulations. The Price Lookup lets you easily compare drug prices at nearby pharmacies, so that you’re certain you’re always paying the lowest price. You can also click over for more information on a pharmacy, including the address, phone number, and other nearby locations.
  5. Get Fido and Mittens in on the savings too! Your FamilyWize card can be used for every member of your family, including pets. Use the app to save on their prescriptions too! 
  6. Share the savings. The app makes it easy for you to share the savings with others. You can easily send a card to someone via email, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. 
  7. Manage your Walgreens prescription. If Walgreens is your preferred pharmacy, the app makes it easy to manage your prescriptions. As long as you have your prescription number, you can refill an existing Walgreens prescription via the app. If you don’t currently use Walgreens for your prescriptions, that’s okay! You can use the app to transfer a current prescription to Walgreens with just your first name, last name, date of birth, phone number, current pharmacy phone number, and a photo of your pill bottle.
Cost should not prevent you from taking the medications you need to stay healthy. The FamilyWize prescription discount app is free and no activation is required to start using it. The FamilyWize app is just one more way for you to quickly and easily manage the costs of your prescriptions every time you visit the pharmacy. Download the app today!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Enter For Your Chance to Win with FamilyWize!

We’re pleased to have achieved two major milestones this year in our mission to help you afford your medications:
  • More than 10 million people have been helped by our free Prescription Savings Card 
  • More than $1 billion has been saved, helping individuals and families nationwide afford the medications they need to live healthier lives
Today we’re kicking off our celebration with the Milestones Sweepstakes! There are 2 ways to enter the sweepstakes, and you could win one of the many prizes we’re offering, including:
  • 1 $500 Grand Prize Gift Card to a local pharmacy or grocery store of your choice
  • 20 $50 Gift Cards to a local pharmacy or grocery store of your choice 
  • 10 Bluetooth Pedometers
How can you participate? It’s quick and easy!

If you already have our Free Prescription Savings Card, all you have to do is share your experience by telling us your story using FamilyWize. If you don’t have a card yet, you can enter for a chance to win by downloading the FamilyWize app, printing a copy of the card, or ordering one by mail, while answering a few quick questions.

Help us celebrate our story by telling us yours today!

Learn more about the Milestones Sweepstakes and tell us your story here.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Five Reasons to Get the Flu Shot - And Save!

Here comes flu season – is your family ready? Although flu season peaks from December through March, now is the time to prepare by taking preventative measures that will keep your family – and those around you – healthy this year.

The most certain way to protect yourself against the flu is the flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for anyone six months of age or older.

Of course, many of us come up with excuses to avoid getting the shot – no time, a fear of needles, or “you never get sick.” Well, toss those excuses aside because there are plenty of good reasons for making the flu shot a priority this year.
  1. Studies show that the flu vaccination works! For most, it effectively prevents contraction of the flu. Save your sick days for another time!
  2. Some people do still get the flu despite having had the flu shot; however, the vaccination often makes the illness milder and more manageable. 
  3. When you get the vaccine, you are not only protecting yourself from the flu, you are also protecting those around you, especially those who may be more vulnerable to the flu, such as the very young, the very old, and those whose immune systems are already compromised by certain medical conditions (many of whom cannot receive the vaccination themselves). For these individuals, the flu can be more serious or even deadly. According to the CDC, during recent flu seasons, between 80- 90% of flu-related deaths occurred in people 65 years and older. 
  4. Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization from more serious flu outcomes. The CDC reports that the flu vaccine reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admission by a whopping 74% during flu season. Another study showed that the flu vaccination resulted in a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults, and even greater among older adults. 
  5. The flu shot helps protect women during pregnancy, and it even protects their babies for up to six months after they are born.
If you don’t get your flu shot due to cost, we can help. In fact, we can also help alleviate the cost of flu-related medications. There are many ways to save; for example:
 We hope that you and your family stay healthy this flu season!