76 percent of Medicare beneficiaries believe the Medicare drug discount cards are a good idea

According to a survey commissioned by the Pharmacy Care Alliance, a large majority-76 percent-of Medicare beneficiaries without prescription drug coverage polled believe the Medicare drug discount cards are a good idea and will help them save money.

Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of the 501 Medicare beneficiaries surveyed by Wirthlin Worldwide plan to try to get more information about the discount cards and a majority (58 percent) already plan to get a card.

Most seniors (56 percent) surveyed felt they knew little or nothing about the Medicare drug discount cards. Additionally, only 20 percent of those surveyed were aware of the Medicare credit of $600 available for low-income Medicare beneficiaries to help them pay for prescription drugs. When they learn about the Medicare credit, more than four out of five (84 percent) believe it will be helpful to low-income Medicare beneficiaries, including two-thirds who think it will be very helpful.

"The Pharmacy Care Alliance survey shows that Medicare beneficiaries who need the most help with their prescription drug costs are eager to learn more and eager to receive the assistance the Medicare drug discount cards will provide," said Mary Ann Wagner, president and consumer health advisor for the Pharmacy Care Alliance. "We look forward to working with Medicare beneficiaries and our growing network of more than 41,000 pharmacies beginning May 3, to help our patients understand the benefits of the discount cards and begin saving money."

The survey also found that a majority (56 percent) of those without prescription drug coverage describe their expenses for prescription drugs as large, and a majority (53 percent) say they find it difficult to cover these costs. In addition, almost one-fourth (23 percent) say they have either not filled a new prescription or not refilled a prescription because of cost, and one-fourth (23 percent) have tried to stretch their prescriptions by taking their medications less often than prescribed or by taking smaller doses than they are supposed to in order to save money.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers Medicare, estimates that there are currently about 10 million American seniors on Medicare who do not have any insurance that covers prescription drugs.

The Pharmacy Care Alliance will offer a Medicare-approved drug discount card beginning May 3, when Medicare beneficiaries can begin applying for the card. Enrollees will begin receiving discounts on their prescription drugs on June 1. The Pharmacy Care Alliance estimates that the Medicare beneficiaries will be able to save as much as 20 percent on brand name and 40 percent on generic drugs through the use of its Medicare-approved drug discount card.

Medicare-approved drug discount cards are designed to help beneficiaries with prescription drug costs until the complete federal prescription drug coverage - Medicare Part D - takes effect in January 2006.

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