School schedules Medicare event

By Kim Walter

By Kim Walter

Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy is holding its annual Medicare Part D — Open Enrollment event on Oct. 24 to help answer questions and point individuals to the best plan possible.

The free annual event, held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., will allow people to see which new Medicare Part D plan for 2014 will cost the least amount of money.

Medicare Part D is a federal program that offers prescription or drug coverage to individuals with Medicare insurance. Individuals with Medicare can join a Medicare Part D plan when they are initially eligible for Medicare, or they can join during the open enrollment period — Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 for 2013.

Individuals who already have a Medicare Part D plan can re-evaluate their plan to see if there is a better fit for the next calendar year.

Each plan varies with different costs, drugs covered and participating pharmacies but they all will usually cover the basics, according to Christal Lee, a current student pharmacist at Shenandoah.

She said that every year plans update and can include changes to the prescriptions and drugs that are covered, and co-payments.

Sometimes new generic medications become available and can be covered, resulting in a lower cost to the individual taking the medication — another reason to re-evaluate a plan.
Some of the highlights for 2014, according to Lee, include increased coverage of medication during the coverage gap or “donut hole,” especially for brand-name medications in which enrollees will receive a 52.5 percent discount.

Once a person is out of the “donut hole,” generic or preferred medications will be priced at $2.55 for a month’s supply and other medications will be priced at $6.35 for a month’s supply. The coverage gap also continues to get smaller and eventually will be phased out by 2020.

Finally, plans that include a deductible will see a decrease from $325 in 2013 to $310 in 2014.

Lee said she’s helped with the event before, and is always surprised by the number of people who attend.

“It’s made me realize how many people really need the help with this stuff, because it can be confusing,” she said. “I even needed help navigating the Medicare website at first.”
Those interested in attending should bring their Medicare card as well as a complete list of current medications. Upon arriving, an individual will be paired up with student and supervising pharmacists.

The professionals will then sit down with the individual and search the Medicare website for updates and the best plan possible.

“There are a lot of changes coming up in healthcare in 2014,” Lee said. “We’re here to help make this process a little easier, and hopefully save folks some money at the same time.”

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com