Walgreens Offers Help to Seniors Navigating Changes in Medicare Part D Plans

Free personalized report available at every Walgreens pharmacy can help seniors save money and make sorting through options easier this open enrollment period

DEERFIELD, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- With open enrollment for Medicare Part D drug plans beginning today, experts are urging Medicare beneficiaries to closely consider all their options as health care reform legislation brings significant changes to the program.

Medicare enrollees have until Dec. 31 to review their coverage options for 2011. Again this year, Walgreens pharmacists will be one of the best resources for Medicare Part D information, offering a free plan comparison report. The report is personalized to show plan costs based on the medications an individual is taking, making it easier for Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers to determine how much can be saved under different plans.

As part of health care reform efforts to make Medicare Part D more affordable and easier to choose coverage, many current Part D plans will not be available in 2011. This means about 3 million Medicare beneficiaries will need to choose another plan for next year, according to Avalere Health, a private research firm.

Another change will save Medicare beneficiaries money when they reach their coverage gap, or “doughnut hole.” Seniors who reach the doughnut hole will get a discount of about 50 percent on most brand-name drugs and 7 percent on generics. The federal government estimates that the average Medicare Part D beneficiary who reaches the doughnut hole next year will save $500 because of these new discounts. Under health care reform, the Medicare Part D coverage gap will be phased out by 2020.

“This year there are substantial savings available to beneficiaries in Medicare Part D, so it’s important they learn as much as possible about their options to realize these benefits,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens vice president of pharmacy operations. “Our pharmacists are among the most trusted and accessible sources for help with making an informed plan choice. They can’t make the decision for you, but they can certainly be a resource to help you understand your options. This is another way our pharmacists are helping people stay well in all the communities we serve.”

Walgreens pharmacists can offer a free Part D plan comparison report that makes it easier for Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers to choose a plan for the first time or determine if their current plan is still the best fit for their needs.

The report is available in minutes at any of the more than 7,600 Walgreens pharmacies nationwide or online at www.walgreens.com/medicare. Pharmacy staff can generate a personalized report based on the individual’s current medications, detailing each plan’s estimated annual costs including monthly premiums, brand and generic co-pays and coverage through the coverage gap.

“Our free report simplifies the decision-making process by providing information tailored for each individual in a way that makes it easy to compare Medicare Part D plans,” Ashworth said. “Even if there have not been changes to their current plan, seniors need to consider how their needs may have evolved over the year. In some cases, people have not re-evaluated their plan costs since they enrolled four years ago, even though their medications may have changed.”

Walgreens pharmacies also will be distributing UnitedHealthcare’s free Medicare guide called “Medicare Made Clear,” an objective, easy-to-understand booklet that explains Parts A, B, C and D of Medicare as well as the enrollment procedures.

Walgreens recommends that Medicare beneficiaries who switch plans or those enrolling in Part D for the first time do so well before the Dec. 31 deadline in order to ensure processing is complete before they need to refill prescriptions in early January.

For more information on the personalized report and Medicare Part D counseling services available at Walgreens, contact your local pharmacy or go to www.walgreens.com/medicare.

Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) is the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2010 sales of $67 billion. The company operates 7,608 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility, long-term care and mail service, along with pharmacy benefit solutions and respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. Walgreens Take Care Health Systems subsidiary is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.


Robert Elfinger, (847) 315-2962

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