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Survey: Drug costs top concerns, but 34% of Medicare eligible not researching options


DEERFIELD, Ill. - Among the top concerns for Medicare beneficiaries today is prescription drug costs, according to a new Walgreens survey released Monday. However, more than one-third (34%) say they aren’t taking time to review their prescription drug plan prior to renewing it and almost one-in-five (19%) don’t have a good understanding of their plan.

“This latest survey reinforces the need to educate beneficiaries about how plans and coverage can and do change from year to year, as can a person’s health and prescription needs,” stated John Lee, senior director of Medicare for Walgreens. “It’s critical for people to be able to get the medications they need, at prices they can afford. One of the ways we’re helping to address this need is through participation in preferred pharmacy networks with most of the leading, national Part D plan sponsors," he said. "Our pharmacists are also a valuable community resource to help people understand Part D information and their coverage options.”

In addition to the 34% of beneficiaries who said they don’t review any aspect of their current Part D plan, 22% look at just one component, checking, for example, to see if their own medications are covered, yet not looking at any other important considerations. And one-in-five (21%) of people surveyed falsely believes that all pharmacies charge the same copay.

In addition, one-third (33%) don’t know they can switch pharmacies outside of the enrollment period, at any time of year.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • When choosing a pharmacy, 30% of Medicare beneficiaries said copay costs are the most important factor, followed by pharmacy location (18%) and the opportunity for one-stop shopping (18%);

  • The cost of health care remains a chief concern to respondents, and prescription costs slightly outrank other costs as being of greatest concern (35%). Just below drug costs are expenses associated with assisted living (33%) or hospital and emergency room services (32%); and

  • In an effort to manage costs, 12% of survey respondents said that they’ve delayed filling a current prescription, and another 9% have skipped occasional doses to stretch medication supply.

“Any time individuals aren’t remaining adherent to medications it’s a concern, as it can pose significant health risks, and can also lead to more healthcare expenditures in the long run,” Lee said.

The survey of 1,000 Medicare Part D beneficiaries was conducted Sept. 14 through Sept. 25 by Market Insights Group in advance of Medicare’s annual enrollment period, which began Oct. 15, and runs through Dec. 7. The data was weighted by gender, age, region and race to be representative of the population of Medicare Part D beneficiaries.

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