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Saving on drug costs

By Jennifer Warnick - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After a lifetime of working as a server and bellman downtown, at the age of 75, Joseph Markward retired. Four years into living on a fixed income, he began to struggle with the price of his prescription medications. 

"I take 4, one each morning," Joseph said. 

Joseph's survival depends on this medicine, but the price was breaking the bank. That's when he came to Senior Connections for help. 

"Oh yeah it's scary, that's why I came here," he said. 

He met with the counselors at Senior Connection. They enrolled him into the extra help program that assists qualifying seniors with paying for their medicine. 

"They could have either zero or reduced premiums, they could have zero or reduced deductibles, they have reduced co pays," said C. Linda Barnhart with Senior Connections. 

The Social Security Administration estimates there are 4000 seniors in the Metro-Richmond area that qualify for the extra help program. Besides helping with drug costs, the program also eliminates the donut-hole effect many on Medicare experience. 

"That's the point at which the total drug costs reach a certain amount, about $2800, and the plan , the drug coverage plan stops paying and the person becomes 100% responsible," Barnhart stated. 

Senior Connections can take your application in person, by mail, even over the phone. They try to make the process simpler for seniors dealing with the confusing world of Medicare. 

"Nobody has ever said I wish I hadn't applied," Barnhart said. 

And by the looks of his medicine costs, Joseph is glad he did. His monthly prescriptions would have set him back $86 a month, now he pays nothing out of pocket. 

"It helps me survive. If you don't know the answers come to this place," Joseph said. 

Senior Connections is urging anyone who may think they qualify for this program to call 343-3000. Or, if you have a loved one who needs help, you can call on their behalf to get an application filed. 

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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