The cure for 'The Doughnut Hole'

For those of you who are not familiar with "The Doughnut Hole," let me explain what it is. This is the period when most Medicare Par
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

For those of you who are not familiar with "The Doughnut Hole," let me explain what it is. This is the period when most Medicare Part D plans will no longer cover the cost of your prescription drugs. Simply put, if you have spent the maximum amount that your Medicare Part D plan allows, it stops contributing toward the cost of your prescription drug purchases. At this point the total cost of your drug will be paid entirely out of your own pocket. (There is a point when Medicare Part D will start covering your medication costs again, but there is such a remote chance that the consumer will fall into this category, it's not worth the confusion of trying to explain it.)

We might have the cure for "The Doughnut Hole" for Erie County senior citizens. It's called "Serving Our Seniors Drug Repository". This Drug repository is located in a licensed pharmacy -- Fisher-Buderer Drug Co., 633 Hancock St., Sandusky. Thedrug repository accepts medications packaged in such a way that it is evident the drug has not been tampered with. The donors of these medications can only be nursing homes or institutional pharmacies. The reason the law restricts who can donate medications is to ensure the donated medications are safe to consume. By accepting medications kept in a nursing home or institutional pharmacy, the medications have always been housed in closely supervised environment.

Drug repositories are designed by law to help those who cannot otherwise afford to buy their prescription medications. There is no income limit, per say. Instead, income and expenses and assets are reviewed to determine financial eligibility. By law, Serving Our Seniors must screen to ensure only those who are uninsured or underinsured are eligible to use the drug repository.

The cost to use the drug repository is $7.40 per prescription. Depending on the available quantity on the shelves in the drug repository, $7.40 might get you a 30-day or 90-day supply of medication. If the supply is low, the pharmacist will only dispense a 30-day supply, even if the prescription is written for 90 days. If the supply of that particular medication is plentiful, the eligible senior citizen can get a three-month supply of medication for $7.40 if that is how the doctor wrote the prescription.

So if you don't have the financial means to buy your medications while you are in "The Donut Hole" (or even if you are in the deductible period or have too high co-payment amounts), here's what you should know:

• Your doctor won't know you can no longer afford your medications unless you tell him/her. (Remember, they're doctors, not mind readers.)

• Call our office (419-624-1856 or 800-564-1856), and request to be screened for Serving Our Seniors' Drug Repository

• Many of the medications in the Drug Repository are generic, but not all.

• Once Serving Our Seniors has determined you are eligible to use the Drug Repository, you must have a written prescription from your doctor to take to the Drug Repository or your doctor can fax the prescription to the Drug Repository.

nIt is recommended that you give the drug repository three days to fill your prescription. (There are plenty of valid reasons for this, but space prevents me from explaining.) So don't wait until you take your last pill, then ask your doctor to change your medication to something that is available in the Drug Repository.

The Donut Hole period will end Jan. 1 of next year, and your new benefit year will start again. Hopefully, that will mean more affordable medications through your Medicare Part D insurance plan. Until that happens, give our office a call at 419-564-1856 or 800-564-1856.

ASK SUE

Q: Is it too late to sign up for Medicare Part D?

A: No, but Medicare has explained in order for your insurance to be implemented Jan. 1 of next year, they highly recommended consumers sign up by Dec. 8. You can still sign up, but don't be surprised if your insurance doesn't kick in until February of next year.

Q: I heard there is transportation for senior citizens on the weekend. Is that true?

A: Yes. Share A Ride operates from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Call 419-624-0367 to schedule a ride. Rides are accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis and are restricted to people who live in Erie County, are age 60 and older and living independently. The cost is an anonymous donation.

Q: What is Elder College?

A: It is an informal learning experience designed to be of interest to people age 50 or older. The Elder College I am most familiar with is at BGSU Firelands and has a full variety of classes. For example, the first class is Feb. 19 of next year -- "Today's FBI" and the last class is May 16 -- "Ohio Workforce Development". The cost is $65 for as many classes as you would like to take. Call 419-433-5560 or 800-322-4787, ext. 20617