Tuesday, July 11, 2017

5 Ways To Save Money on Prescription Drugs

Use these easy tips to help save money on prescription drug costs.

Modern medications can work wonders, improving quality of life, curing illness and even saving lives. However, those miracles can come at a high cost, as anyone who's had to pay for branded prescription medication knows. In fact, spending on prescription drugs has increased 73 percent in the past seven years, according to a new report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA).


What's driving the increase in prescription drug costs


The Health of America Report found prescription drug spending by Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) members increased 10 percent annually since 2010. High costs of patent-protected prescription drugs account for the lion's share of the total increase.

Generic drugs account for 82 percent of total prescriptions filled, but account for just 37 percent of total drug spending. By contrast, patent-protected prescription drugs comprise less than 10 percent of all prescriptions filled but account for 63 percent of total drug spending, the report found.

"Experience and past price trends suggest drug costs will continue to rise in the future," says Maureen Sullivan, chief strategy and innovation officer for BCBS. "The need for more affordable generic alternatives to costly patent-protected brand-name pharmaceuticals is urgent. As prices continue to rise, more consumers will be looking for ways to curb the cost of their medications."

What you can do to lower the cost of your prescription drugs

It is possible to lower your drug costs while still taking the medications your doctor has prescribed to help your health. BCBSA offers some guidance:


  • If your doctor prescribes a costly name-brand medication, ask your physician or pharmacist if a generic version is available. Generic drugs are identical to their brand-name equivalents in dosage form, safety, strength and quality, how you take them, performance and intended use, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Generics typically cost less than name-brand medications. The BCBSA report shows how costs for medicines like Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Avapro (irbesartan) plummet when generic alternatives become available.


  • It may be possible for your doctor to prescribe a higher strength than you need of a particular medication and allow you to split the tablet or pill to get the lower dose you need at a lower cost. In fact, many pills that can be safely split come pre-scored with an indentation that makes it easier to cut them in half. However, not all prescription medications can be safely split, so be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether it's safe to split your medications.


  • Ordering prescription drug medications through the mail could lower drug costs, but it's important to ensure you're buying from your pharmacy benefit manager, typically listed on the back of an insurance card. The FDA recommends you only purchase drugs from organizations located in the U.S. and licensed by the state board of pharmacy where the company operates (find a list of state boards of pharmacy at www.nabp.info). The mail order pharmacy should have a licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions, require a prescription from your doctor in order to sell you medication, and have someone you can talk to directly if you have questions or problems.


  • Another way to reduce prescription drug costs is to ask your doctor to write your prescription for a 90-day supply so that you will get a three-month supply of the medication for the price of one co-pay.


  • Finally, review your prescriptions with your doctor at least every six months to ensure you're not taking any more medicines than you absolutely need. However, never skip doses of medicine, avoid refilling a prescription or stop taking medicine altogether without first consulting your doctor.

Medical Alert System with fall detection pendant
Remember, taking multiple prescription drugs can sometimes cause unintended side effects, including dizziness, disorientation and confusion.  A medical alert system with automatic fall detection built into the pendant can help reduce the risk of falling in the event of a prescription drug medication interaction.

For more information about prescription drug costs, and to read the full Health of America report, visit www.bcbs.com/healthofamerica.

Editors Note: Article courtesy of BPT.  All product names, logos, and brands are property of their respective owners and used for identification purposes only. Use of these names, logos, and brands does not imply endorsement.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Maintaining Your Independence with Home Health Services

Staying healthy and out of the hospital is a top priority for the majority of seniors. 

However, as you age, you may need additional care to meet your medical needs after an illness, injury or exacerbation of a chronic health problem. Fortunately, this doesn't necessarily mean a long hospital or rehab stay, thanks to home health service options.

For Yoko and Kenneth Gilbert, both age 84, home health services provided important care when they needed it the most. After an injury caused by a fall Yoko needed nursing care for her wounds. She also needed physical therapy to regain her ability to get around. Her husband's help could only go so far, but he could not provide the professional care that she required, so at her doctor's advice, she decided to get home health services.



What is home health care?


According to Medicare.gov, "Home health care is a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury. Home health care is usually less expensive, more convenient and just as effective as care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF)."

Every home health plan of care is individualized based on the person's unique medical needs and abilities. The goal is to treat the person's medical condition at home so that he or she can enjoy a high quality of life while receiving professional services designed to restore health, self-sufficiency and independence.

For Yoko, this gave her important peace of mind. She decided to work with Brookdale Home Health for her specific needs. "They came every week, changed my dressing and catheter," she says. "Everything was just great."

When are home health services used?


For seniors residing at home or in a senior living community, both medical and non-medical home care are options. The people most likely to need home health services are those recently diagnosed with a new illness, those who have been injured in a fall or other event, and those who have experienced a major change in health condition such as the worsening of a chronic disease process.

To provide these services, a health care professional will come to your place of residence. This may include a nurse, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a home health aide or a medical social worker. Because these professionals come to you, you're able to remain in the comfort and security of your own home. Receiving care at home enhances your physical and mental well-being and promotes dignity and independence.

For Yoko, part of her home health care services were provided by a physical therapist named Barbara. "Barbara was wonderful," she says. "She took care of me, she pushed me and because of her I can move around better."

Yoko's husband, Kenneth, says the services were more than just health care. "Brookdale Home Health helped her a lot. Her therapists really lifted her spirits," he adds.

How can you get home health services?


Before Yoko could receive home health care, she got a referral from her doctor. A doctor is in charge of determining whether you are a candidate for home health services. If you think you are a candidate, it's important to have an honest conversation with your physician to see if home health is the right option for you.

If your doctor decides that home health is right for you, begin to research options in your area. With a doctor's prescription, the Brookdale Home Health team of experts can provide care based upon your unique medical needs in the privacy of your home.

Is home health covered by insurance?


Home health services are often covered by health insurance, but you should verify the details with your particular plan provider. Many plans offer 100 percent coverage if certain conditions are met. For example, Brookdale Home Health services may be covered by 100 percent of your Medicare Part A benefit if your doctor determines that you are homebound and that home health services are medically necessary to treat your illness, injury or change in medical condition.

For those who have to pay out of pocket, home health services often start at around $20 an hour with a three hour minimum, depending on the level of service needed.  Many clients with medical alert systems enjoy having someone come by to do light cleaning and housekeeping, but keep their medical alert button in the event of an emergency.

Yoko saw great improvements in her condition through home health services. However, she eventually experienced additional medical complications that require 24 hour care. Her husband could not keep up with the demands and sought respite care in a Brookdale community. After receiving respite services, they have decided to move in to a Brookdale Senior Living community full-time.

"My wife got sick and there was no way I could take care of her," says Kenneth. "We moved into a Brookdale community on Valentine's Day and we've been here ever since."

Today they are permanent residents of Patriot Heights in San Antonio, Texas, where they receive the full-time care they need, enjoy a full social calendar and have made many new friends.

- Article Courtesy of BPT