Program aids seniors with rising cost of prescription drugs

Thursday, January 9, 2003

The high costs of prescription drugs has many Missouri seniors scrambling to pay for their health care needs, according to local senior service agency personnel.

But a program called Missouri SenioRx is designed to help seniors save money on their medications.

"It is fortunate that we have drugs that give seniors a high quality of life. It is unfortunate that the cost of the drugs is prohibitive," said Ellen Dillon, educational counselor for A.P.P.L.E. Paperwork Service for seniors.

Some seniors go without food to pay for costly prescription medication, according to information provided by the Area Wide United Way, the Area Agency on Aging and A.P.P.L.E.

"Missouri SenioRx is designed to save low-income seniors 65 and older an average of $750 a year," said Jerry Simon, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The typical Missouri senior has 31 prescriptions filled per year at an average cost of $49.56 for each prescription. At this rate, prescription drugs are an expenditure of more than $1,500 per year.

Benefits fall short

Medicare benefits do not assist many struggling seniors. More than 13 million Medicare beneficiaries have no prescription coverage, while almost 80 percent of seniors now use prescription medicines regularly.

However, with Missouri SenioRx, even Missouri seniors who don't receive Medicaid do have some hope against the rising cost of prescription drugs.

"Missouri SenioRx is better than any of the prescription drug programs we have had in Missouri. I believe that 2003 will be an even better year for seniors on the program," said Ruth Dockins with the Area Agency on Aging.

Enrollment for Missouri SenioRx started Jan. 1 and will end Feb. 28. Those enrolled last year will automatically be sent a re-enrollment form.

Those enrolling for the first time can contact the Area Agency on Aging at 335-3331, A.P.P.L.E. Paperwork Service at 651-5467, or call toll free (866) 556-9316. For more information, visit www.missouriseniorx.com.

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