Pharmacy students offer Medicare Part D review

October 16, 2020

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It's no secret health insurance can be confusing. And that's certainly true for seniors over the age of 65 who navigate Medicare's website each year to enroll in coverage. This year, a group of students at the UNMC College of Pharmacy hope to make at least one part of that task a bit easier. They're offering complimentary reviews of senior's medications and costs to help determine which plans under Medicare Part D would be best for their individual situation.

"This is open to any senior, regardless of whether they fill their prescriptions with us or use Nebraska Medicine for their care," says Cassidy Bruns, UNMC student and intern at the Pharmacy at Durham Outpatient Center.

There are several plans offered under Medicare Part D, which is drug coverage, and it can be confusing for some to determine what plan to choose. Some plans have higher co-pays and lower premiums and vice versa.

Prior to a Part D review, the interns ask for a senior's list of medications, their preferred pharmacy and their current Medicare Part D ID number (if applicable).

"With that information, we can pull a comparison report of the different Part D plans and provide them with the top plans," said Angela Wong, UNMC student and intern at the Pharmacy at Durham Outpatient Center. "The report will compare their current plan with the others to help them make their decision. We've seen people save hundreds of dollars by choosing the right plan for their circumstances."

The students don't enroll participants in their Part D coverage. After the review, they provide the reports to the seniors to give them time to study and make their decision.

This year, the reviews will be offered over the phone or through Zoom. If you have a patient or loved one you think would benefit from this service, invite them to email cwong@nebraskamed.com. The students will reply to each email to request the necessary information and to set up a time to talk. The dates of the reviews will be scheduled Monday, Nov. 9 through Friday, Nov. 13.

"This gives them a few weeks to decide," Bruns said.

Medicare open enrollment begins Thursday, Oct. 15 and runs through Monday, Dec. 7.

"We offered this review at another local pharmacy in the past and seniors found it very helpful," Bruns said. "Navigating the website can be tricky and if we can help save them money, it's worth it."

"It's also a great patient care activity for students," said Wong. "This helps us learn more about managed care."

The students will have a preceptor supervising the efforts.

"I have worked in retail pharmacy for over 15 years and it's amazing how confusing this can be," said Allison Beachler, PharmD, supervisor, Pharmacy at Durham Outpatient Center. "We hope to empower seniors to make educated decisions. It's an invaluable service."

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UNMC Today Editor
October 16, 2020 at 12:57 PM

The email link in the article for Ms. Wong is correct.

David Becker
October 16, 2020 at 12:56 PM

I want to make sure this is the correct email ( cwong) , ... as they article refers to Angela Wong ... thanks !