Medicare-approved drug discount cards help

Medicare-approved drug discount cards help Seniors and disabled Medicare beneficiaries have received drug discount cards as a way of lowering their prescription drug costs.

It is estimated that there are 686 new Medicare-Approved Drug Discount cardholders in South Dakota since September 2004, said Liz Gorham, family resource management specialist for South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension.

Some 301 individuals are receiving discounts from 10 to 30 percent or more. If the average annual cost of drugs for a Medicare beneficiary were $2,250, a 10 percent discount would provide $225 in savings; a 30 percent discount would provide $675 in savings. Total savings for all 301 individuals would add up to $67,725 to $203,175 federal monies available to South Dakotans. Some 385 of those cardholders qualified for a $600 credit in 2004 for prescription drugs purchases and will receive a similar amount of credit on their 2005 prescription drug bill. This is a savings of $1,200 for 385 South Dakota consumers amounting to a total of $462,000.

"Your income may be low enough to qualify for credit on your next prescription drug purchase. The sooner you apply for the credit the better, since the credit benefit in 2005 is pro-rated. That is, $600 is offered to those who qualify if they have completed the application process by March 31, 2005," Gorham said. "However, that amount decreases every quarter.

Thus, completion of the application for qualified Medicare beneficiaries must take place by June 30 for $450 credit, by Sept. 30 for $300 credit, and by Dec. 31 for $150 credit."

You may qualify for savings on your prescription drug bill, Gorham said. To learn more, contact your county Extension educator or call the Senior Health Information and Insurance Education (SHIINE) office at 1-800-536-8197.

More information is also available by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

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