Rx Discount Card

Published January 1, 2004

Seniors and the disabled enrolled in the Medicare Drug Discount Card Program should save about 17.4 percent on average. This is according to new research from Harvard University.

While Republicans are claiming the discount program is great and the Democrats say it’s not so great, neither had any influence on the research, sponsored by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

The discounts can be as high as 41 percent on generics, making them a safer and cheaper option to buying risky drugs from Canada and other foreign sources, and up to 14 percent on brand names.

Companies have started marketing the discount cards. You should not jump in and buy the first one you see. Shop and compare in the free market for the best deal. You have to stay with your choice for a year before you can switch.

Many experts say it is difficult to calculate the total savings because of the number of drugs, the dosage, and the kind of drugs one takes. Savings can be as much as 36 percent on hypertension drugs and only 9 percent on allergy pills.

American spending on prescription drugs in 2003 was about $216.4 billion. Researchers estimate the total out-of-pocket savings from the new discount card program will be as high as $1 billion annually.

Further details are available online at http://medicare.gov. The Web site can be a little confusing at first, so get some help if you need it.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.