Information you need to live a happy, worry-free retirement!
Originally published April 5, 2016, last updated April 5, 2016
Thinking of cutting pills in half or taking a prescription less frequently to save money?
With the cost of prescription drugs soaring and coverage growing increasingly complicated, Medicare MarketPlace® has hired our first on-staff pharmacist to help you get the best, most affordable coverage, so you don’t have to take drastic, possibly unhealthy, measures.
Our Licensed Insurance Agents can continue to help you with most Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plan questions, but for the more complex issues or prescription-specific questions, Pharmacy Director Ryan Vlasin is now available.
“I feel my current role is mostly that of a patient advocate,” Ryan said. “As drug prices continue to climb, patients need strategies to make sure they’re not being priced out of the market.”
How can Ryan save you time and money? Here are a few examples:
Ryan is uniquely qualified to share cost-saving and health-smart strategies. After earning a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, he earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree and started out as a quality assurance chemist at the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer before moving behind the counter for nearly a decade as a retail pharmacist. This vast experience makes him knowledgeable about not only the medicines themselves, but also the manufacturing, retail and the insurance pieces of your increasingly complicated health care puzzle. Read below to learn why Ryan wants to help you.
The Man Who Couldn’t Retire
By Medicare MarketPlace Pharmacy Director Ryan Vlasin
After nearly a decade as a retail pharmacist, I felt I had a good understanding of how Medicare Part D worked. Every January I would brace for the influx of crisp, freshly laminated Rx cards directing me to a patient’s new insurance plan. My patients were like family — we laughed and cried together. Mostly, we cried though, because it seemed like every year their premiums and co-pays went up.
About six months ago I left retail pharmacy, hoping to use my education and experience to help patients find the best coverage and avoid pitfalls before their newly minted insurance card hit the pharmacy counter. This way, everyone could cry less and laugh more and, more importantly, afford their meds. Now I spend my days assisting insurance agents and their clients as we work through the extremely complicated Medicare maze. There are great coverage options out there, and I love helping people by suggesting therapeutic alternatives and other strategies that will lower their costs.
It was in that spirit that I answered the phone a few weeks ago and was presented with a question that changed my perspective. It was a call from a 70-year-old cancer survivor who was still working full time. His question and in fact his entire future were balancing on one medication. As soon as he said “Keytruda,” I sat upright. It’s not a medication I see every day, and in fact I had never dispensed it. It was an expensive medication, but a promising one used in the fight against melanoma skin cancer.
“Keytruda is the only thing keeping me alive,” the client explained. “I need to know if Part D is going to cover it.”
After spending the better part of an hour researching Keytruda and how it’s covered by Medicare plans, we discussed his expected out-of-pocket costs. His dose of Keytruda would have been $53,000 without insurance. He already had excellent insurance through his employer, and his out-of-pocket costs for the medicine were only $600 per year. Although Medicare covered the medication better than I expected, his cost difference would have been $4,500 per year. Ultimately, he decided to keep working because his employer insurance covered it better than any of the Part D plans. He told me that every year he thinks he might retire, but the cost of Keytruda keeps him working. He can’t afford to retire.
This case study highlights a couple of important things. I have encountered many people who think that because they don’t currently take any medications, they don’t need to enroll in Part D. If any of these people needed a life-saving medication like Keytruda, it would likely result in financial devastation. There is a penalty for some who don’t enroll in Medicare when they turn 65, but the real penalty is needing a life-saving medication and not being able to afford it. If you are eligible for Medicare, please make sure you have a Part D prescription drug plan in place to protect you and your family.
If you have any questions about your Part D coverage, give us a call at 1-800-639-0781.