Can I Afford My Drugs?

As seniors, our biggest challenge is how to afford the drugs that our doctors prescribe. There are a number of realities that we have to deal with, and over which we have no control.

We spend about 45% of the global total spent on pharmaceutical drugs. Americans spend more on prescribed drugs than any other developed country and pay double what other countries’ residents pay for healthcare in general.

Half of the scientifically innovative drugs approved in the US from 1998 to 2007 resulted from research at universities and biotech firms, not big drug companies. Despite their rhetoric defending the need for high prices to support Research and Development, Big Pharma spends exponentially more on marketing than the small percent of profits they spend on R&D.

With an army of 1,491 paid lobbyists (in 2017), the industry spreads its influence on Capitol Hill. In 2017, Big Pharma spent $2.8 billion on lobbying expenses — more than any other industry — more than the defense industries and corporate business lobbyists combined.

Our individual clients have different medication lists, needs and budgets. As a result we encourage them to check in with us each year to make sure they are spending only as much as is necessary. Our process is to do a full analysis on every client’s drug list:

We use the excellent www.medicare.gov website to analyze the most cost effective plan for our clients’ drug needs.

We arrive at an estimate of the lowest annual costs of these drug needs.

We examine if the same drug can
be got for a lower price off-shore.

We also check to see if there a generic version already available off-shore?

We examine discount websites like www.goodrx.com to see if a cash price may be less.

Until recently it was illegal for pharmacists to volunteer the fact that a drug might be less expensive without using insurance. Although the law has changed, it is not effective yet, so don’t forget to ask the pharmacist this question – he will answer without fear of retribution.

We encourage everyone to register online on their insurer’s website – this will help keep them apprised of the claims on their account and watch their drug expenditures during the year.

We also help every eligible client to access any benefits to which they may be entitled, e.g. low income subsidy or ‘extra help’, or Medicaid.

It is essential to use the preferred retail and mail order pharmacies for our insurer so we know we are at least getting their best price.

Bottom line – our goal is always to help our clients keep as much of their money as possible. ~

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Teresa Risner, President of LTC Advisors. She can be reached at 407-949-6722 or at info@ltcadvisors.net, or visit www.ltcadvisors.net. Her offices are at One Senior Place in Altamonte Springs.