Discounting drugs

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Senior citizens have not flocked to the federal government's new Medicare-approved drug discount cards. Only 3.6 million of the 41 million eligible Americans have signed up for the program. Of those who got cards, 2.4 million were enrolled automatically by their health insurance programs.

To date, the program has not eased the burden of paying for expensive drugs for most senior citizens.

To begin with, the program offering 36 different discount cards to recipients makes it difficult for seniors to choose which card, if any, would provide the most savings on prescriptions. It's even confusing to people who work in pharmacies.

Some seniors say they are not enrolling in the program because they don't expect to realize any savings. These seniors have educated themselves about the program and are making the best decision for their own circumstances.

Some seniors with incomes low enough to qualify for a $600 annual drug credit are making use of the discount cards and should. One senior who qualifies told the Southeast Missourian the drug discount card could save her $200 a month.

Seniors who qualify for the credit are not required to pay the annual enrollment free for the drug-card program.

The drug card program needs to be simplified and modified if it is to benefit more seniors.

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