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Medicare Prescriptions Drug Discount Card

Starting on January 1, 2006, Medicare will begin covering most prescription drugs for senior citizens. In the meantime, seniors should consider applying for a Medicare-approved drug discount card.

Private companies, mainly pharmacies and insurance companies, offer the cards. Here are some things to consider when deciding which card is right for you:

  • Fees for enrollment.
  • Not all cards are good in all states. This is very important if you split your time between different homes.
  • A given pharmacy may accept only certain cards.
  • Different cards can cover different drugs and can change
  • Discounts on a given drug differ by card and the size of the discounts offered by a given card can change.
  • You can possess only one card at a time and are good through December 31, 2005.
  • The card may give you access to a $600 annual credit on prescription drug purchases if your income is below $12,569 (single) or $16,862 (married).

Other things that you should consider include:

  • Unless you have a secondary insurance plan (that is, besides Medicare) that covers the full cost of outpatient prescription drugs, a card might be worthwhile.
  • If you are eligible for other discount plans (e.g., through AARP membership), you must compare whether it or a prescription drug discount card offers a better deal.
  • Most pharmacies will limit you to one discount plan. For example, they'll make you choose either an AARP discount or the prescription drug discount card.

Deciding on the best card, unfortunately, is not easy. Besides all these factors, a card that is right for you now can become obsolete if your doctor drops a drug that is covered by your card or adds one that is not. In that case, you may have to cancel your card and sign up for a different one, incurring a new enrollment fee.

If your spending on drugs is large enough, it can be worth the effort. Check various card issuers' offers and talk to your pharmacist and your doctor for their advice. Only consider cards with a "Medicare Approved" seal on them.

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