Chicago Tribune Examines Medicare Prescription Drug Cards
The Chicago Tribune on Monday looked at the potential effect of Medicare prescription drug discount cards, which will be introduced by private insurers, HMOs, drug companies and others this June. The cards, the first initiative under the new Medicare law to be implemented, could offer beneficiaries discounts of 10% to 25% on medications, but "nobody knows what the savings will actually be" because the card issuers will be allowed to change discount rates, the Tribune reports. So far, 106 organizations have signed up to offer the discount cards; the list will be finalized by the end of the month. Each of the discount card programs will vary in which drugs they include, discounts and participating pharmacies. CMS is planning to post online the comparative benefits and pricing data for the discount cards and update the information each week. Beneficiaries will be required to keep the same Medicare card for a full year. Other drug discount cards are already available to many seniors. Twenty states have approved drug discount card programs, and many drug companies offer discount programs and cards, the Tribune reports. The variety of cards available to seniors could lead to Medicare beneficiaries having multiple cards and also to the production of fraudulent cards. Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, New York and Rhode Island officials have reported that "unscrupulous salespeople have been peddling unauthorized Medicare cards," the Tribune reports (Graham, Chicago Tribune, 3/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.