There are many options available for those looking for some kind of prescription drug coverage. As is the case with those in search of individual insurance plans, there are private plans that one can purchase from a company or organization. Although these private plans do offer a reduction in the costs of prescription and generic medications, the plans themselves also tend to be expensive, and often limit the choices of doctors and pharmacies available to the plan enrollee.
Discount Drug Plans
Another commonly used option is discount drug cards, which work in much the same way that a discount health insurance plan works. By signing up to become a member of the discount drug card plan, one is given a list of participating doctors and pharmacies, where members of the plan can buy prescription and generic drugs at a wholesale rate, similar to what an insurance company would expect to pay. The problem with these types of discount cards is that, like the discount health insurance plans, there are often strict limits on what doctors and pharmacies can be visited, and even on what drugs can be purchased.
Medicare Prescription Plan
The most often used prescription drug plan today, at least for people of retirement age, is the prescription plan available through Medicare. One can either join a Medicare prescription drug plan, or one can join a Medicare Advantage Plan or other Medicare Health Plan that offers drug coverage. Regardless of the chosen plan, Medicare drug coverage will help the customer by covering both brand-name and generic drugs at many pharmacies throughout the country.
The main disadvantage of Medicare drug coverage is the fact that, like any insurance plan, if one joins, they generally will pay a monthly premium, which varies by plan, and a yearly deductible (between $0-$265 in 2007). The plan enrollee will also pay a part of the cost of the prescriptions, including a co-payment or coinsurance. This means that if one requires a particularly expensive medication, or a large amount of prescriptions, the coinsurance rate will obviously be proportionally high, also.
However, the Medicare prescription plan has extra help available for people with limited income and resources. According to the official Medicare website, almost one in three people with Medicare will qualify for extra help. For those who do qualify, Medicare will pay for almost all prescription drug costs.
Benefits of Prescription Drug Plans
Those who would benefit the most from these prescription drug plans are those without health insurance of any kind, or those who have health insurance, but have a plan that does not cover prescription medication. Like any discount insurance plan, these various prescription plans can be very helpful to someone who requires some help paying for their medication, provided that the interested party does their research, and is aware of the costs and limitations of the plan that they are signing up for.