By the end of this summer, more than one million older Americans will have fallen into the “doughnut hole”—a coverage gap in Medicare’s prescription drug program that leaves individuals on the hook for all of their own drug costs while still paying premiums. AARP is launching a new online resource to help older Americans avoid this dreaded coverage gap.
The AARP Doughnut Hole Calculator, available at www.aarp.org/doughnuthole, guides visitors through their prescription drug options using localized information about their plans and prescriptions to determine if or when they will fall into the coverage gap. In about 15 minutes, visitors can view a graph of their out-of-pocket spending by month, look up lower cost drugs for their conditions, create a Personal Medication Record and print out personalized letters to their doctors to help start a conversation about safely switching prescriptions.
“More than three million people fall into the gap each year, and millions more nervously wonder if they might fall in,” said AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond. “For the first time, people in Medicare have a simple way to learn if they’ll fall into the doughnut hole and find ways to avoid it by switching to safe, less expensive medications.” As a part of its Health Action Now campaign, AARP is calling on Congress to close the doughnut hole and lower prescription drug prices so that no one has to go without the prescriptions they need to stay healthy. Recently, AARP joined President Obama to endorse an agreement by Senate leaders and the pharmaceutical industry that would reduce brand name drug costs for people who fall into the doughnut hole by half. Research has shown people cut back on their prescription drugs when their costs become unaffordable, which can lead to more serious health conditions and larger health care bills.
LeaMond added: “Saving money on prescription drugs is going to mean pressing hard in Washington to close the doughnut hole; yesterday we were proud to help announce significant progress toward that goal. In the meantime, we also want to give Americans the tools they need to cut their drug costs and stay out of the gap in the first place. We encourage every person in Medicare to take a few minutes to find the right drugs at the lowest prices.”
The calculator is powered by DestinationRx as part of a special arrangement between AARP and Medicare. The data is the same used by the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder, giving users the most accurate and up-to-date drug pricing information available.
For details on AARP’s health reform priorities, visit http://www.aarp.org/governmentwatch.