Best Drug Prices: Medicare or Canada?

AARP: New Medicare Drug Plan May Beat Canadian Online Prices

From the WebMD Archives

Dec. 30, 2005 -- It may be less costly to get prescription drugs through the new Medicare drug plan than from online Canadian pharmacies, according to a new AARP report.

AARP crunched the numbers for five people taking a variety of prescription drugs.

Using the drug plan finder on Medicare's web site, AARP calculated the costs of buying the drugs under the new Medicare plan, which begins on Jan. 1, 2006, or through online Canadian pharmacies.

The bottom line: Medicare was less expensive for four out of the five people studied.

Case Studies

The AARP report shows that Medicare's prices beat Canada's for the four participants who each had more than one prescription.

Co-payments, deductibles, and monthly premiums were calculated. The numbers come from the least expensive Medicare plan each patient could have chosen that covered all of their drugs.

The greatest savings -- nearly $1,400 in out-of-pocket costs for 2006 -- was for a woman taking six prescription drugs.

The fifth person only had one prescription. She would have spent nearly $300 more in out-of-pocket costs for 2006 to get that drug through Medicare, AARP reports.

AARP's Advice

"Jan. 1 is truly a watershed day for many Americans who face the high cost of prescription drugs," says AARP CEO Bill Novelli in a news release.

"Millions of Americans who have never had drug coverage can now save more money through Medicare Part D rather than turning to Canada to get their prescriptions," he continues.

AARP's news release includes this advice for potential enrollees in the new Medicare drug plan:

  • Make a list of the drugs and dosages, along with the current cost.
  • Decide what pharmacy to use.
  • Decide how much of your monthly budget is affordable for the drug(s).
  • Talk to your family and friends.
  • Review drug plan options on the Medicare drug plan finder and with individual companies offering the plans.

"The most important thing is to decide what aspects of a plan are personally most important and you will find the right plan to suit your needs," Novelli says in the news release.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on December 30, 2005


SOURCES: Barry, P. AARP Bulletin, January 2006. News release, AARP.
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