How has prescription health care changed?

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010

 

This blog is in response to Rick Studer's question, "Can you explain the current prescription drug situation compared to the state it was in before Serving Our Seniors got involved?"

Here's what I know: Our data indicates that the affordability of prescription health care has improved since Serving Our Seniors began working on the affordable medications issue in 1998. Based on the inquiries for help with medications, Serving Our Seniors has found that, generally speaking, access to affordable prescription medication has improved. (Please note that the operative words are "generally speaking".)

This is what I base my conclusion on: In 1998 Serving Our Seniors began helping older people who could not afford to fill their prescriptions. From 1998 until 2006 Serving Our Seniors was helping over 200 individuals obtain name brand drugs for free from the manufacturer. (Most of you are familiar with this program. It's advertised on TV commercials by Montel Williams.) All 200 of them could not afford the retail price of the drug, as determined by a financial assessment we conducted of each person's income and their expenses. In addition to these 200 people, we also helped another 90 individuals afford their medications that directly treated the following chronic illnesses: arthritis, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetes.

Here's what's changed: Since January 2006 there has been a steady decline in the number of people age 65 or older who receive free medications from the manufacturer of that particular drug. We are no longer assisting 200 older adults obtain free medications from the manufacturer. Today, that number has gone down to 50 older adults.

Here's why: Most of the makers of these medications are not willing to give their product to patients age 65 and older anymore. Their position is that the older person should have purchased Medicare Part D (prescription drug insurance). You see, the manufacturer is encouraging sales of their product by ceasing their "give-away" program for people who are old enough to purchase Medicare Part D prescription coverage.

Here's what else has changed: Between 1998 and January 2006 we have been studying a sample population of 90 elderly individuals who could not afford to treat the one or more of the following illnesses - arthritis, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetes. (These are the most common illnesses among the older population. If left untreated, these health problems take away an older person's functional independence, and make them more expensive to care for as they grow older.) In January 2006, this sample population of 90 people decreased to a sample size of 4 people.

Here's why: On January 1, 2006 Medicare Part D went into effect. Serving Our Seniors, required this sample population of older adults to sign up for Medicare Part D to remain in the study and to continue to receive financial assistance with particular medications (if needed). By doing so this allowed Serving Our Seniors to see how effective Medicare Part D was at making medicines affordable. Sixty of the 90 people earned a gross annual income equal to 150% of the Federal poverty guideline. (Simply put, 60 of those individuals we were helping with the cost of their medications were living on less than $15,000/year) Those 60 people received free Medicare Part D insurance and their co-payments were $2/drug. (Today, that co-payment per drug is $5 each) The other 30 people had to buy their own prescription coverage and their co-payments per drug varied and were more expensive that the $2-$5 per drug.

Here's what else changed: Based on our sample population, we found that 30 of the older people still could not afford their prescription medication even with their Medicare Part D insurance. They needed the financial assistance of Serving Our Seniors' "Medicine Fund" within a 12-month period.

Here's why: These 30 older adults were above the 150% of the Federal Poverty Guideline, but were far from "rich," and they took multiple medications per day. These 30 older adults didn't make enough money to afford their co-payments per drug and a monthly insurance premium or they exhausted their prescription benefit in less than 12 months and the insurance plan wouldn't pay any more toward the purchase of the drugs until their new "benefit year," (January 1st of the next year).

Here's what else has changed: In September 2007 Serving Our Seniors began receiving a huge amount of perfectly good medications, in tamper-proof packaging, donated to the Drug Repository by one of the nation's largest institutional pharmacies. The Drug Repository has more medications than we have older people who need them. For that reason, these medications are now available to anyone -- of any age -- who lacks prescription drug insurance. Through the drug repository a patient can fill their prescription for $7.40 per drug. If the doctor writes the prescription for a 90 day supply, the patient can get a 90 day supply for $7.40. There's one catch to the 90 day supply rule -- provided we have enough quantity of that particular drug in stock to dispense a 90 day supply.

PLEASE NOTE: Although the Drug Repository is a great asset to people who cannot afford their medicines, it doesn't carry the "latest and greatest" drug on the market. Januvia, for example, a new pill that treats diabetes, is not a drug that is donated to the Drug Repository. Januvia's retail cost is $181 for 30 pills. An affordable alternative for a diabetic might be an older drug, an insulin injection, but liquid medications are rarely available through the drug repository. Therefore finding affordable alternatives to treat diabetes and vision impairment are not cheap to come by.

Finally, I don't know if people are still going to Canada to use their pharmacies now that chain stores are offering specific generic drugs for $4 per prescription. Serving Our Seniors never coordinated the bus trips. This was a service that was rendered by the Erie County Senior Center, then taken over by a travel agent out of Vermilion. We rarely get inquiries from older people about accessing their medications via a Canadian pharmacy. This is a change prior to the implementation of Medicare Part D.

Comments

Anonymous

You are really out of luck if you need dental care. If ur in pain you can get a tooth pulled but no root canals without cash or insurance and there expensive. If ur poor don’t eat sugar- u’ll pay

Anonymous

The World’s oldest rock band performing 'My Generation':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9...

Anonymous

LOL. What a putz. She’s just humoring you hoping that you’ll finally clam up.

Book? Which vanity press will you be using?

Did a web search on the name Rick Studer; when did you get out of prison on the pedophilia conviction?

Rick Studer

Jeff... vanity press? Oh my, a failed writer... Why don't you write 500 words on something political and I'll debate your points. A chance to redeem your manhood! Or are your essays just limited to name calling? Come on Jeff, strut your stuff!

Anonymous

The only thing lamer on this blog than Rick "Hot Pants" Studer is Jeff Krapbills dumb comments. Jeff you comment under various names but we know its you. I hate Studer but you are ever lower than him because he at least posts his real name. Grow a pair and own up if you are gonna make comments by using your real name, I do. And as far as you Studer keep on using me in you crappy book you will be so sued your grandkids will be paying me.

Rick Studer

I would never wear hot pants after Labor Day…

Jeff, I know you’re usually off the mark but here’s something for you and your friends, if you can find it…

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...

Anonymous

You obviously are impressed with your own bloviating. Skim reading your cartoonish attempts at appearing intellectual and academic is highly amusing.

Write on...

Anonymous

Jeff…why so angry? You write like an ex-wife. I’m concerned about you, is your personal life falling apart? Perhaps you feel things falling apart? Love isn’t easy my friend, did you get in over your head? Are you directing your inner anger for someone else toward me? Remember the great words of Jimmy Soul;

“If you wanna be happy
For the rest of your life,
Never make a pretty woman your wife,
So from my personal point of view,
Get an ugly girl to marry you.

A pretty woman makes her husband look small
And very often causes his downfall.
As soon as he marries her
Then she starts to do
The things that will break his heart.
But if you make an ugly woman your wife,
You'll be happy for the rest of your life,
An ugly woman cooks her meals on time,
She'll always give you peace of mind.

Anonymous

Hey! Jeff Krapbill is back in full idiotic force. Hey Jeff, like I tell Studer stay on topic. The only thing you seem to have to do is attack bloggers and insult people who express their opinion. You never say anything that has any sort of semblence of wisdom. Get on topic Jeff or get lost.

Rick Studer

Hey Vandaleetoo, quit trying to butter me up. You will not improve your place in my book. You’re firmly locked in as the comic relief character. As my professor at Bluffton, Gary M Guinn, award winning author of "Sestina for Annie", nominee of the prestigious Pushcart Prize writing award is fond of saying, “That my friend is your Ralph Kramden…

Anonymous

after starting Januvia my a1c levels jumped 2.5 to 3 points from prior readings so now my levels are in the 10.5 and 10.8 range. My bs readings went from the 200's to constantly over 400 sometimes off the meter. Developed acute abdominal pain, became lethargic, had breathing problems, GI tract problems, experienced chronic heart abnormalities and pain, night sweating, severe vision problems with double vision, and developed severe muscle pain, spasms and weakness. I stopped Januvia for 3 months and tried again and started to develop the same medical problems within 1 week and stopped again. I will never take the drug again. I have not recovered to the point of when I started Januvia in 05/2007 to 07/2008. I feel this drug was not fully tested before general public usage. I feel this durg could kill. It was my primary physician who worked with me and NOT the endocrinologist who ignored my constant complaints and said it has to be working.

Anonymous

Hey Studer do you think and talk out of your arse?

Anonymous

Let me get this straight , in a blog about nothing, with Seinfeld like characters, one of the people in the blog, is writing a book about a blog, in the blog. Do I have that correct?

Anonymous

Hey Vandalay, I just had a couple of Milwaukee’s Best with Rhonda from Borders, how you like those apples? I’m feeling too good to deal with you noe

Anonymous

Hi Art!!!! I like ur rightin ur amart!!! LOL!!!! Come in Sunday i'mworkin:))))

BLACKJACK

i hats art v, i wood neecaphim

Rick Studer

Thank you so much for deleting those items.

Would the person posting comments under my name please use proper grammar and spelling!

Mick

Sue, why don't you delete the childish comments from the two or three clowns on here who are acting like children? No one wants to visit or comment on your blogs anymore because of these immature adults playing kids games on behalf of your time and efforts. Why do you tolerate it? I use to read your blog, but until you clean house, you cannot expect anyone to take this column seriously. Any effort at an intelligent response is always interupted by the comments of these men who no doubt, graduated at the top of their clown school class.

Rick Studer

Dear Mick,

Please get real. Whom are we trying to impress? You are threatening to stop reading this blog because you “seem” offended by a few comments that may or may not be humorous? Do ever read any other blogs on the Internet? Blogs are a freeform exchange of ideas between citizens of all walks of life. The key word being freeform! Since the beginning of this wonderful country, all sides, big and small, wide and tall have been heard. This is called freedom of speech. We as Americans embrace this right and will fight and die for this right so don’t impinge on others rights, ok Mick?

Why don’t you take a tour around the other blogs on this web site. You will see hate, race bating, name calling, people making fun of the dead, insulting the families of the dead, horrible things, people insulting minors who are attempting to be writers instead of coke heads and you are offended by a little humor? Come on Mick, trying to score a few brownie points with someone or just incredibly naïve?

If you really read this blog you would see there are actually rules that are trying to be followed. The five or six “regulars” never insult the blogstress! We support the topic. We attack anyone we attacks the blogstress , we try to hold courtlater in the week, and we insult each other. We are like mice in the attic… Just ignore them Mick, like you do the freedom you take for granted. You may stand with your hand in your pocket, I’ll stand with Lance, AverageJoe, BlackJack, Art Vandalay, Nurse Kathy, Jeff the pervert, Mr. Foam (who might be jeff), Mr. Ed, Regarding Sues Blog and of course, “The Narrator”. If we are not wanted then all the Blogstress has to do is ask us to leave, and we’ll be gone! As for you Mick, grow a sack and be a plus, not a negative… Mick, you are a Payne…

Anonymous

And Dale from Webelos... Sorry Dale ;(

Anonymous

The buffalo not seen could be the one that runs over your sleep sack…

Gulliver

TO MICK: I have the same degree of control over who gets deleted as you do. People think that I choose whose posts get to stay & who gets the boot. I don't. All readers of this blog are free to click on the "Report abuse" link.

The only power I have is the power of asking respectfully. So let me ask the commenters who go off topic this... Would you please comment on the topic and quibble amongs yourselves elsewhere? Thank you for considering this request -- Sue

ray11

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