According to new research from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, there’s a 1 in 5 chance that if that your parents are over 50, they are switching to cheaper prescriptions, failing to take the medicine they are supposed to or skipping trips to the doctor to save money.
Switching to cheaper prescription drugs is actually probably good news. In all likelihood, that means that seniors are switching to generic prescription drugs which are just as effective as the more expensive brand names.
But skipping doctors’ visits and stopping taking medication are, of course, much more problematic. 19% of the seniors surveyed had skipped or postponed a a doctor’s visit, and about 5% had split pills or reduced dosage to make their prescriptions last longer. Another 5% had skipped taking a medication entirely. Even worse, the seniors mostly likely to skip a doctor’s visit or medication tend to be ones in poorer health.
Help! My Parent IS Skipping Taking Their Drugs!?
We get a lot of emails from people who have suddenly discovered that their parents are skipping their drugs, sometimes because it’s a question of paying for those drugs or paying for groceries. It’s not an easy situation, but you can take some steps to help your parents.
Go With Your Parents to Their Doctor. It really can be as simple as bringing a list of all of the prescription drugs your parent is supposed to be taking to their next doctor’s visit and asking the doctor to review it. If your parent is taking a laundry list of prescription drugs, ask the doctor whether all of them are still really necessary. It’s very easy for a patient to start on a prescription drug for a short-term condition and then to continue taking it simply because no one remembers to take them off of it.
Asking the doctor to take a look at your parent’s health insurance’s prescription drug formulary can also help save money. The health insurance prescription drug formulary is the list of prescription drugs covered by your parent’s health insurance, and the copays charged for them. In reviewing the prescription drug formulary, your parent’s doctor may be able to make some changes to your parent’s prescriptions that could save them money, such as switching to a different prescription drug with a lower copay. In many cases, switching from a 30 days prescription to a 90 day prescription (and sometimes vice versa) can save you money on copays as well.
Whatever you do, the important thing is to work with your parent’s doctor to find a solution. The doctor can’t help you solve a problem if he or she doesn’t know about it, so don’t be shy. Even if your parent’s doctor can only advise on which of your parent’s prescription drugs are most critical to continue, that can still be an important tool in helping your parents budget out which prescription drugs are most important and may save your parent’s life.
Have you talked to your parents about their healthcare expenses? Tell us about it in our forums!
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