What’s in your wallet?
Do you have a written list of the medications you take?
If not, it might kill you, as it does thousands of people every year.
Lack of an accurate medication list also makes it much more difficult to choose Medicare prescription drug coverage. The Medicare open enrollment period is in effect now, and ends Dec. 7.
Medicare Part D — prescription drug coverage — is a crucial and complex part of an often confusing process for many Medicare-eligible seniors.
There are myriad factors in making choices about Medicare, the federal government’s health-care plan serving mostly those age 65 and older. But whatever a person’s situation, seniors and other adults taking medication on a regular basis can make better choices for themselves by taking the time — or asking for help — in compiling that list of medications.
Having an accurate, up-to-date, and legible list of medications in your wallet or purse can be crucial if you end up in an emergency room, alone and unconscious. But just being awake isn’t always enough.
“It’s a big problem,” said Dan Hyman, head of Internal Medicine at Cooper University Health Care, a Level 1 trauma center in Camden, N.J. Even when they are conscious, Hyman said, “people are sick, upset and don’t remember or forget to tell us.”
Cooper gives patients in its system wallet-sized cards listing their medication, but Hyman said getting updates and information from out-of-network doctors remains a challenge.
Jeanmarie Perrone, an emergency physician at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said a “great proportion” of the people arriving at the emergency room can’t remember off the top of their head what medications they take, assuming that they are conscious upon arrival.
“They are trying to be helpful,” she said, “but saying, ‘It’s a red pill,’ doesn’t help us at all.”
Medicare Open Enrollment Basics
About the program:
Medicare is the federal government’s medical insurance program, mostly serving seniors 65 and older. It has four main parts:
Part A — in-patient hospital care
Part B — out-patient doctor’s office visits
Part C — Medicare Advantage plans through private insurers
Part D — prescription drug coverage
Tips on coverage:
Medicare does not cover dental care.
Many, but not all, Medicare Advantage plans include Parts A, B and D, but ask to be sure.
Premiums, deductibles and co-pays of Medicare plans vary depending on your situation and prescription drugs you need.
The toll-free phone number for help is 800-633-4227. You will need your Medicare number.
The website is www.medicare.gov.
What to consider:
Don’t drop a plan until you are sure of the one you are joining.
If you are not in a drug plan and don’t join one during open enrollment, there could be extra cost for joining later.
SOURCE: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services