Comparing Medicare and discount drug cards

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Comparing discount prescription drug plans

by Tony Novak, CPA, MBA, MT
, revised 5/9/201

Update: We are advised to direct members with questions about the popular DCA benefit and specific drugs (includingCore Health plan members) to the Member Help Line at 1-800-788-2949.

The Medicare-endorsed discount prescription drug card will be introduced next month (April 2004) and many people are asking how the plan compares to other similar plans already in the market. The Medicare-endorsed cards will be issued primarily by HMOs, whereas the commercial plans are offered by other types of health care firms. The Medicare plans are available only to qualified beneficiaries bit the commercial plans are available to anyone. Clearly low income seniors will benefit because the Medicare-endorsed card includes a $600 cash benefit. But for everyone else, the benefits are questionable and the commercial plans may actually be more valuable. The chart below summarizes three of the different types of prescription drug cards, using the most popular plans at Freedom Benefits in each category as specific examples.

  Medicare Commercial Free Cost $30/year $90/year $0 Eligibility qualified Medicare beneficiaries anyone anyone Savings 10% to 25% 15% to25% 5% to 20% Online Sources 26 providers at Ehealthdiscountplan Freedom Benefits Advantages Low income beneficiaries get $600 cash benefit, drug prices are published online one card covers whole household, strong member service, 30 day free trial fast access, print and use immediately Disadvantages must wait until eligible, most are issued by HMOs not available in all states limited user service

Please note that the Freedom Benefits supplemental prescription drug plan is not a discount plan but is a faternal benefit available to only to members who meet qualification requirements. Ask the enrollment adviser for details.

Status: outdated

The consumer concepts still apply but the specific references are outdated.

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