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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Navigating the Medicare Rx Discount Maze

Experts say go slow and ask questions before choosing your card.

Low-Income Benefit continued...

The credit will come embedded in the card they choose and will be deducted like a debit card as they buy prescription drugs, according to Medicare. The Social Security Administration is ready to send out mailers to all seniors who qualify for the money. Lieberman recommends that seniors and their families contact their State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) to find out if they qualify.

"That's a good benefit for people if they understand what they have to do to get it," she says.

Ask Your Pharmacist

"The pharmacists knows what medications you are taking and would be the best person with the best advice" on discount cards, says Mary Ann Wagner, the president of the Pharmacy Care Alliance, a joint venture of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and pharmacy benefit manager at Express Scripts Inc. The alliance is set to market its own discount card that some, though probably not all, big chain drug stores will honor, she says.

Wagner says that the NACDS is working to educate pharmacists about the prescription discount card program so that they can answer beneficiaries' questions. Still, big chains have worried that their busy pharmacists could have trouble handing an onslaught of questions from confused seniors.

"That's a tremendous concern that all of the chains are wrestling with," she says. The bottom line is that some pharmacies may be willing to sit down and help you fill out your enrollment application, while others may just hand you a pamphlet and tell you to call Medicare. "It varies," Wagner says.

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