Medicare insight: Three ways to advocate for lower out-of-pocket costs

(BPT) - Medicare Part D provides coverage for prescription drugs that save and extend lives for millions of older adults and people with disabilities, many of whom would otherwise struggle to afford their treatments. However, despite the important purpose it serves, some people on Medicare, especially those taking expensive medications, still struggle to fill their prescriptions and maintain their health.

Two key challenges facing Medicare beneficiaries include the fact that:

  • Medicare Part D insurance does not have an annual cap on out-of-pocket costs, so people sometimes have to pay thousands of dollars for their life-saving prescriptions.
  • For people taking expensive prescription drugs, there are very high out-of-pocket costs at the beginning of each calendar year, due to the way the Part D benefit is structured.

The Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation, a national charity dedicated to increasing access to healthcare, is advocating for reforms to the program and encourages you to take action. Here are three ways you can help promote reforms to Medicare Part D that will lower out-of-pocket costs:

1. Learn more about the issues

The PAN Foundation offers many resources on www.panfoundation.org/advocate to help you learn more about Medicare Part D and potential reforms that could help you and others pay less at the pharmacy counter for your prescription medications.

Additionally, signing up for healthcare newsletters, like the PAN Foundation newsletter, National Council on Aging newsletter or the Medicare Rights Center newsletter, will help you stay involved and informed.

2. Write to your members of Congress

Send a letter directly to your representatives and senators to ask them to pass legislation to lower out-of-pocket costs in Medicare Part D, such as setting an annual limit and evenly distributing these costs throughout the year.

By using PAN’s “contact Congress” tool, you can quickly contact your elected officials and can even use a pre-written letter so that you don’t have to start from scratch.

Before hitting send, consider adding your own story to the letter. Real-life examples can explain why reforms are necessary, and the impact that lower out-of-pocket prescription drug costs would have on your financial security and quality of life. Personal stories leave a lasting impression on legislators.

3. Share your story on social media

Another easy way to advocate for reforms to Medicare Part D is to share information on social media. This can help you stay informed while also spreading important information to your network.

Sharing your own story about how you are impacted by high out-of-pocket costs and tagging your elected officials will help inform your friends and family about the important changes needed to lower out-of-pocket costs for people on Medicare. The PAN Foundation has helpful resources for you to start advocating for changes to Medicare Part D on social media and encourage more people to contact their elected officials.

Take action

Without a limit on out-of-pocket costs, 45 million people on Medicare Part D will continue to struggle to fill their prescriptions and maintain their health.

The time for change is now: when we raise our voices and collectively call on our elected officials, we can help people living with serious illnesses afford their life-saving medications.

Take action on this important issue and ask Congress for lower out-of-pocket costs today.

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