You may save $1,000 in drug costs through free county counseling

October 17th, 2020     Government & Politics

Union County residents are reminded they can get free Medicare Part D prescription drug counseling through the open enrollment period that ends Dec. 7.

This is the time anyone can sign up for a plan or change plans without penalty

The program is sponsored by the Union County Board of Supervisors, Three Rivers Planning and Development District and the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

Three Rivers Medicare Coordinator Wade Holland said that this past year almost 1,000 participants saved an average of $1,017 annually in out-of-pocket drug costs. “People almost always find they can save money,” he said.

In 2019, county counselors completed 1,293 comparisons. Of them, 118 were new to Medicare, 244 elected to keep their current plan and 931, or 79 percent of those assisted found a less expensive plan.

In Union county, 130 participated and saved $81,000, Holland said.

To use the program, participants provide their Medicare card and a list of medications they take and then see a comparison of various drug plans as well as a comparison of their actual drug costs under the plans and at various area pharmacies.

The service can help first-time Part D users make good choices as well as help continuing users pick the plan that will save them the most money. That may or may not be the same plan they have been using this year. Prices may change from year to year.

The counselor can give you a printout of the information to consider at home, or help you sign up for a plan at the time.

No specific plans are promoted and there will be no cost or request for money.

Former county employee Kay Wicker, who was the counselor this past year, is providing that service again.

The program began Thursday and she said she has had only a few clients show up so far. However, she added that was the pattern this past year, because it took a while for word of the program to spread and the number of participants quickly increased.

One may make an appointment for the service but it is not necessary. Anyone who does make an appointment should be aware that walk-ins still could affect the time they are served slightly.

The time required for the session depends on the number of medications involved as well as the number of plans and pharmacies involved. Thirty minutes and often less is common.

The Union County Board of Supervisors office is at 108 E. Main Street. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and the phone number is 662-669-0832.

A mailed reminder will be sent to each home address in the eight counties served by Three Rivers closer to the enrollment period.

People may do a plan comparison on their own by going to the Medicare website, but may find the process much more cumbersome than having Wicker do it.

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