Driving near Monterey, Calif., recently, I stopped at a roadside stand to buy some freshly-picked strawberries. May is high season for California strawberries, and the fields were exploding with beautiful, ripe fruit.
The gentleman working the stand, Jack, asked what I do for a living. When I told him I work for Medicare, he said he was having difficulty paying for his prescription drugs. So we talked for a while about ways he might be able to reduce his drug costs.
If you have Medicare and you’re having trouble paying for prescription drugs, signing up for Medicare’s Part D prescription drug coverage may help, even if you have to pay a late-enrollment penalty.
There are other ways you may be able to save. Consider switching to drugs that cost less. Ask your doctor if there are generic, over-the-counter, or less expensive brand-name drugs that could work just as well as the ones you’re taking now.
Switching to lower-cost drugs can save you hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars a year. Visit the Medicare Plan Finder at Medicare.gov/find-a-plan to get information on ways to save money in your Medicare drug plan. Or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and ask our customer service representatives.
You may also be able to lower your Medicare prescription drug costs by:
Find out whether the manufacturers of the drugs you take offer assistance by visiting Medicare.gov/pharmaceutical-assistance-program or calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. Such assistance programs aren’t part of Medicare Part D, so any help you get from this type of program won’t count toward your TrOOP costs.
If you need help finding resources like the ones described above, call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) and ask for free personalized counseling for people with Medicare.
To get the phone number for your state’s SHIP, visit shiptacenter.org, or call 1-800-MEDICARE.
And if you’re wondering whether Jack charged me for the strawberries, he did offer them for free. But since helping people with Medicare is a big part of my job, I told him I preferred to pay despite his kind offer.
We settled on a fair price, along with some freshly baked shortcake.
About the Author:
Greg Dill is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Territories.You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).