6 Things You Should Do to Manage Your Medications Properly
Millions of Americans take prescription drugs for chronic health conditions, and unfortunately, serious medical complications can occur when medications are not taken as prescribed. This is particularly concerning for our nation's seniors since nearly nine out of 10 (89%) report that they take prescription medications, and more than half (54%) take four or more different types of drugs. As a pharmacist and an expert in prescription drug benefits, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a well-organized medication management plan in place. Here are six ways to help you do that.
Many individuals are unaware that a less expensive medication than the one they are taking is available. With the FDA reporting that generics cost 80% to 85% less than the name brand, it's important to speak with your physician and pharmacist to determine if switching to a generic version is an option. For example, Humana members may utilize resources like Maximize Your Benefit Rx, which indicates if a lower cost prescription drug is available and how much they may save annually.
Cut Down on Frequent Trips to Pharmacy
To minimize visits to the pharmacy, check to see if a 90-day supply of your medications is offered. A 2020 study found that opting in to a 90-day supply of medications rather than a 30-day supply can lead to greater medication adherence, which often results in better health. Also, consider using a prescription mail order pharmacy, like CenterWell Pharmacy, which will safely mail your medications on-time and right to your front door.
Remember to Refill
Did you know you may be able to sign up for auto-refills? With this option, you don't have to worry about a lapse in taking your medication. Many pharmacies also offer prescription home delivery services so your auto-refill can be sent straight to your home. If you don't elect for automatic refills, see if you can sign up for text, email or phone notifications so you don't accidentally run out of your medication.
The rise in polypharmacy – the use of multiple drugs to treat multiple chronic conditions – is a growing concern for older adults. Taking too many prescription medications could put your safety at risk and result in falls, frailty and mortality. Keep an open line of communication with your physicians and pharmacists so they're aware of what medications you're taking. You may also be able leverage your pharmacy or health plan's app and/or website to maintain a single, complete list of your medications.
Understand Your Plan Benefits
During the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) Annual Enrollment Period, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, Medicare eligible individuals should assess their health needs, including their medications, to determine which plan is best for them. For example, many PDP plans include benefits like $0 copays on certain medications and prescription mail order pharmacies. Additionally, Medicare eligible members can receive affordable insulin with predictable costs with their PDP and most Medicare Advantage plans in 2023. Further, some pharmacies, referred to as preferred pharmacies, might offer prescriptions at a lower cost. As you assess plan options, check to see if there's a pharmacy in your area that could help save you money.
Create a Premium Payment Plan
It's important to pay your monthly health insurance premium in full by the due date as a lapse in coverage could result in penalties and paying higher prices for prescription drugs. Setting up and scheduling automatic payments is a good way to ensure your payments are received and processed on time.
In addition to these steps, it's critical that all individuals, especially seniors, work with their doctor and pharmacist to properly manage their medications in order to achieve their best health.
Scott Greenwell, PharmD., is President of Humana Pharmacy Solutions, where he oversees Humana's health plan pharmacy benefits and member-focused strategies designed to yield savings in pharmacy and total health expenses. Greenwell is based in Louisville, Kentucky.