"I was a bit skeptical at first. But I printed the card out anyway and took it to my neighborhood Walgreen's. The pharmacist told me I'd save about $8 off my prescription. I was thrilled! Thank you so much!"

Kim H. Missouri

"I saved over 60% on three of my medications and 24% on the other. That was a savings of over $40. This card is great!"

Carl V. Florida


" For the first time ever, I was able to save on a prescription for one of my dogs.  An antibiotic, that would have cost around $35, was only $20, saving me $15!  I'm very impressed!"

Neal M. Florida

3.4 Million Seniors Hit Medicare 'Doughnut Hole'

THURSDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- In 2007, about 3.4 million Americans enrolled in the Medicare Part D drug plan reached a gap in their prescription coverage known as the "doughnut hole," leading some of them to stop taking prescribed drugs, says a Kaiser Family Foundation study released Thursday.

The analysis of data found that 26 percent of Part D enrollees who filled any prescriptions in 2007 reached the coverage gap. This includes 22 percent who were stuck in the gap for the remainder of the year and 4 percent who eventually received catastrophic coverage. When they applied this estimate to the all Part D enrollees, the study authors concluded that last year about 3.4 million beneficiaries (14 percent of all Part D enrollees) reached the coverage gap and faced paying full cost for their prescriptions.

Enrollees prescribed drugs for serious chronic conditions had a much higher risk of a gap in coverage under the Part D plan. For example, 64 percent of enrollees taking medications for Alzheimer's disease reached the coverage gap, along with 51 percent of those taking oral anti-diabetic medications and 45 percent of those taking antidepressants. The data analysis didn't include beneficiaries who receive low-income subsidies, because they don't face a gap in coverage under their Medicare drug plan.

The study authors also found that some patients altered their use of prescription drugs when they reached the coverage gap and had to pay the full cost of their medications. The researchers looked at eight classes of drugs used to treat a variety of common conditions and found that 15 percent of Part D enrollees who reached the gap stopped their drug therapy, 5 percent switched to another medication in the same class, and 1 percent reduced the number of drugs they were taking in the class.

"The Medicare drug benefit has produced tangible relief for millions of people, despite the unusual coverage gap that was created to make the benefit fit within budget constraints," Kaiser CEO and President Drew Altman said in a news release. "But if a new president and Congress consider changes to the drug benefit, it will be important to keep in mind that the coverage gap has consequences for some patients with serious health conditions."

Tips to Save More

Consult with your physician about alternative therapies. Before you begin a new prescription medication, talk with your doctor about non-prescription modifications to your lifestyle, diet or exercise. These changes may postpone, reduce or avoid the need for the cost of and taking a new medication.

Review your other medications. Disclose all the medications that you are taking to your physician and pharmacist before they prescribe or dispense a new medication. Some medications may intensify or reduce the effectiveness of another, or may even possibly duplicate the effects of another drug you are taking.

Select the lowest-cost alternative. Many brand-name prescription medications have a generic equivalent. Generic drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safety and effectiveness, and are manufactured under the same strict rules that apply to their brand-name twin. So ask your physician and pharmacist if there is a generic drug that will save you money. If no generic equivalent is available, there may still be a lower-cost alternative within the same class of drugs that performs the functions your care requires. Once again, consult with your physician on these money-saving alternatives.

Obtain a larger supply. In most instances, your cost per dosage will decrease as the amount you have dispensed at one time increases. If you will be taking a medication for an extended period of time, ask your physician if it would be appropriate to prescribe a 90-day supply rather than a 30-day supply.

Shop only at our preferred pharmacies. All chain pharmacies and most independent pharmacies have been given equal opportunity to serve you via this program. Participating pharmacies are required to offer you deep discounts and assist in performing some fairly complicated drug management procedures for card holders, and not all pharmacies agree to participate. However, that gives you the confidence of knowing that pharmacies participating in this program are concerned with your health and saving you money, and therefore, are deserving of your business and loyalty.

Show your card every time. To ensure your medication is checked for safety and billed at the correct price, your pharmacist needs to transmit valuable information in your card. In some instances, the pharmacist may store your card information in their computer. However, to be certain you receive the maximum benefit, you need to show your card each time you have your prescriptions filled.

Understand your drug therapy. You invest a lot of money in medications. In order to get the most value for your dollar, you need to understand how to use your prescription drugs effectively. Make sure your physician and pharmacist explain how and when to take each prescription medication. Some factors to consider when trying to get the most from your medication are the effects of: Food and water being taken with your medication. The time of day you take your medication. Effects of other medications, including over-the-counter drugs, on your prescription.

Store your medications properly. Most medications will lose their effectiveness when they are subject to heat, moisture, light, or time. A steamy bathroom or a purse left in a hot car are examples of bad places to keep medicine. Store your medications in a cool, dark place. Remember to carry your daily or weekly medications in a pillbox to avoid damaging your entire supply of medication. Also, always remember to check expiration dates and dispose of expired medications by flushing them down the toilet.

Talk with your physician. Make sure that your physician knows that saving money is important to you. Ask that they prescribe a generic equivalent or lower-cost alternative if at all appropriate. Also, make sure that they know about any other drugs you are taking that may alter the effectiveness of the medication they are prescribing. Finally, make sure that you understand the drug therapy they prescribe so that you obtain the most value from the drugs that you are about to invest in. The following "Message to Physicians" contains information that should assist you in talking with your doctor about saving money.

*Pharmacy discounts are NOT insurance and NOT intended as a substitute for insurance.