The Official Medtipster Blog

have your healthcare and afford it, too
Subscribe

Archive for February, 2010

Identify Your Pills

February 23, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Medicine Advice

If you’ve found yourself confused about a specific pill you’re taking, and can’t find the prescription bottle, what do you do?

It’s often very easy to use a weekly dispenser for your medications when you’re taking several different prescriptions. Many people transfer their pills from the bottle to the dispenser immediately, then toss out the prescription bottle. If you ever find yourself in this situation, or if you’re trying to identify a prescription pill on behalf of someone else, a pill identifier is available online.

WebMD, the online medical giant, has a pill identifier function at http://www.webmd.com/pill-identification/default.htm. Our very own Pharma Sue can also answer any pill related questions you may have regarding specific pills you are taking. Pharma Sue’s online forum is http://www.medtipster.com/pharmasueann.php.

Pharmacy Benefit Manager Fees Must Be Reported on Schedule C

February 22, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Medtipster, Prescription News

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, 2/2010

The Department of Labor published FAQs to supplement FAQs published in July 2008, and to provide further guidance in response to additional questions from plans and service providers on the requirements for reporting service provider fees and other compensation on the Schedule C of the 2009 Form 5500 Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan. Inquiries regarding these supplemental FAQs may be directed to EBSA’s Office of Regulations and Interpretations at 202.693.8523.

The new FAQs — numbers 26 and 27 — note that PBMs perform many services for which they are compensated, including services as a third-party administrator, claims processor, and developer of the plan’s formulary and pharmacy network. The FAQs make clear that fees for these services would be reportable as direct compensation on Schedule C.

Q26: Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) provide services to plans and are compensated for these services in various ways. How should this compensation be reported?

PBMs often act as third party administrators for ERISA plan prescription drug programs and perform many activities to manage their clients’ prescription drug insurance coverage. They are generally engaged to be responsible for processing and paying prescription drug claims. They can also be engaged to develop and maintain the plan’s formulary and assemble networks of retail pharmacies that a plan sponsor’s members can use to fill prescriptions. PBMs receive fees for these services that are reportable compensation for Schedule C purposes. For example, dispensing fees charged by the PBM for each prescription filled by its mail-order pharmacy, specialty pharmacy, or a pharmacy that is a member of the PBM’s retail network and paid with plan assets would be reportable as direct compensation. Likewise, administrative fees paid with plan assets, whether or not reflected as part of the dispensing fee, would be reportable direct compensation on the Schedule C. Payments by the plan or payments by the plan sponsor that are reimbursed by the plan for ancillary administrative services such as recordkeeping, data management and information reporting, formulary management, participant health desk service, benefit education, utilization review, claims adjudication, participant communications, reporting services, website services, prior authorization, clinical programs, pharmacy audits, and other services would also be reportable direct compensation.

Q27: PBMs may receive rebates or discounts from the pharmaceutical manufacturers based on the amount of drugs a PBM purchases or other factors. Do such rebates and discounts need to be reported as indirect compensation on Schedule C?

Because formulary listings will affect a drug’s sales, pharmaceutical manufacturers compete to ensure that their products are included on PBM formularies. For example, PBMs often negotiate discounts and rebates with drug manufacturers based on the drugs bought and sold by PBMs or dispensed under ERISA plans administered by a PBM. These discounts and rebates go under various names, for example, “formulary payments” to obtain formulary status and “market-share payments” to encourage PBMs to dispense particular drugs. The Department is currently considering the extent to which PBM discount and rebate revenue attributable to a PBM’s business with ERISA plans may properly be classified as compensation related to services provided to the plans. Thus, in the absence of further guidance from the Department, discount and rebate revenue received by PBMs from pharmaceutical companies generally do not need to be treated as reportable indirect compensation for Schedule C purposes, even if the discount or rebate may be based in part of the quantity of drugs dispensed under ERISA plans administered by the PBM. If, however, the plan and the PBM agree that such rebates or discounts (or earnings on rebates and discounts held by the PBM) would be used to compensate the PBM for managing the plan’s prescription drug coverage, dispensing prescriptions or other administrative and ancillary services, that revenue would be reportable indirect compensation notwithstanding that the funds were derived from rebates or discounts.

More information to follow via our blog at www.medtipster.com

Walgreen to Acquire Duane Reade, Add New York Stores

February 17, 2010 By: Nadia Category: Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Nádia - your personal pharmacy cost adviser
Nádia – your personal pharmacy cost adviser

Walgreen Co., the biggest U.S. drugstore chain, agreed to buy Duane Reade Holdings Inc. from affiliates of Oak Hill Capital Partners for $1.08 billion, to expand in metropolitan New York. 

We are watching this closely as it relates to both chains discount generic programs. We anticipate Walgreens to eventually include their existing Prescription Savings Club within the Duane Reade locations.  In the meantime, please continue to visit medtipster.com to search for your generic drugs and their discount prices at both chains nationwide.

DOCTORS FIND GENERIC DRUGS FOR PATIENTS

February 16, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Medtipster, Prescription Savings

Medtipster.com, the user friendly prescription drugs search engine for consumers, has launched a doctor specific search site to help locate generic drugs for patients.

When you visit your doctor, many times you leave with a prescription that needs to be filled immediately. Doctors care about their patients’ health – yet now they can show more care and concern by helping patients locate the cheapest prescriptions available.

“We want doctors to inform their patients how they can save on drugs, and support the use of generic drugs, at the same time,” says Jason Klein, President of Medtipster.com. Medtipster.com is the online search engine for consumers to locate cheap prescription drugs at a pharmacy near them, with most drugs available on a $4 generic program.

The newly launched Doctor Medtipster has functions separate from the consumer site. While the consumer site will promote immunization, health screenings and mini-clinic searches, the doctor site will not. “We know that doctors have a client base, and certainly don’t want to promote these types of services to those who are not looking for them,” Klein says. “We want doctors to use our site and understand that we want the best options for the patients, just as they do.”

This is the main reason Medtipster.com launched in early 2009, to give consumers a choice when it comes to healthcare. With the average brand name prescription cost of $93.00, the website’s focus is choosing generic drugs. The new “doctor appealing” website will help doctors encourage their patients to save on prescriptions. With nearly all doctor’s offices using internet and innovative technology, doctors can now find where their patients’ newly written prescriptions are available as generic drugs before the patient leaves the office. While generic drugs are the bioequivalent of a brand name drug, doctors often encourage patients to buy generic drugs when possible.

Medtipster.com is quickly earning its reputation for helping consumers find the cheapest prescriptions available right in their neighborhood. It plans to earn the same reputation with doctors, giving them the tool they need to help their patients save on prescriptions before they leave the doctor’s office.

E-Prescriptions Versus Handwritten Prescriptions

February 09, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Medicine Advice

Many prescriptions are transmitted electronically, however, does this mean your privacy and safety are at risk? Or is this a safer, more secure and more beneficial method of prescribing medications?

With the age of technology and electronic, well, everything, we’re seeing a lot of changes in every day life, and in every day business. We’ve seen newspaper circulations drop, paper mail decrease, and who doesn’t have an email address or a home computer?

Your physician’s office most likely has an electronic version of your medical records by now, instead of the old school manilla folders. If not, trust me, it will happen sooner versus later. There are a lot of benefits to this method, the biggest being saving trees and helping the environment. Let’s take a closer look at how this may affect the one piece of paper you typically walk out the physician’s office door with – a prescription.

E-prescriptions are the same as the hand written prescription, only computer generated by your physician. The electronic prescription is sent directly to the pharmacy of your choice. Privacy has been a key concern for many patients with this change in how prescriptions are handled, however, rest assured that the network (transmitting) between your physician’s computer and your pharmacy is a secured and private route.

E-prescribing is more efficient and is faster in most cases. Most of the time, your prescription arrives at your pharmacy before you leave your doctor’s office. It doesn’t always mean it will be ready for you when you arrive, as sometimes pharmacies are busy or you arrive before the pharmacist has had time to fill the script. But, you won’t be waiting around the pharmacy or having to leave and come back. Plus the risk of errors with traditional hand written prescriptions is almost obsolete with e-prescriptions.

Also, remember that all e-prescriptions meet the requirements of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Your medical history has always contained the record of your prescription, and it being electronic or hand written makes no difference. All medical and prescription information is protected by federal and state laws.

If you have questions about your prescription, your physician or pharmacist will be able to address your concerns. Specific questions about e-prescriptions can be answered by either professional as well. Remember if you’re unsure which pharmacy has your prescription at the lowest cost available, tell your exit nurse at your physician’s office to use Medtipster.com to find the pharmacy to transmit your e-prescription.

Pharmacists are Among the Most Trusted Professionals

February 04, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Medicine Advice

Pharmacies work hard to bring you in as a customer, not just once, but for life. They want to be your trusted source for questions and concerns, as well as fill your doctor’s written prescription.

Think about the last time you took a 10-minute drive somewhere. How many CVS, Rite Aid or Walgreens did you pass? The fact is there’s a pharmacy on nearly every other corner! The pharmacy industry is crucial to healthcare.

Within every pharmacy, there is a trusted professional called a pharmacist. Otherwise the pharmacy wouldn’t be able to operate. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) states that on average there is a pharmacy within two and a half miles of every resident in the U.S. Many have drive-thru and 24-hour access, meaning whenever you’re in need of a medication, your pharmacist is there for you.

Pharmacists dispense pills, sure, but that’s not all they do. They consult with you regarding your specific prescription, other medications you are taking, side effects, possible alternatives, and answer any questions you have about your health. Many times I’ve walked into my pharmacy looking for an over-the-counter drug for a cold or flu like symptoms, and the pharmacist on duty helps me find the best option for my symptoms.

This shows me a high level of kindness and concern, which healthcare professionals should absolutely carry at all times. I believe in most cases, people find that pharmacy professionals are always willing to answer questions and spend time getting to know their patients. Often this is why pharmacies entice customers to stay with them for refills and ongoing prescriptions, the pharmacist wants to get to know you, and help you determine the right medications for you.

Sources: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

Does Your Employer Prescription Plan Cost You… Nothing At All?

February 03, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Free Prescriptions, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

Generic drugs save people hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year, but did you know you could be paying absolutely nothing out of pocket, and your employer’s cost could be significantly reduced – both at the same time.

By now you’re familiar with Medtipster.com. We encourage generic drug purchasing over brand name drugs because they are just as effective, and cost less. You also know where to find your generic prescription at the lowest cost, right in your neighborhood.

If you have insurance, the cost of a generic for you could be a $15 co-pay, and your employer eats up the remainder of the cost, which is an average of $17.00. If you’ve found your generic on a $4 generic program by using Medtipster.com, you pay $4, and your employer pays nothing. We know you love Medtipster.com, but now we want your employer to love Medtipster.com too!

Free prescriptions have been our thing lately, in case you haven’t noticed. Thousands of Michigan residents have received free prescriptions since the beginning of December 2009. We are almost ready to take this free prescription giveaway nationwide, but first, we thought of another way to encourage generic drug purchasing, and you don’t have to be a Michigan resident to take advantage of this program. It’s called the Medtipster MVP.

With this program, employers partner with Medtipster.com to essentially give their employees free prescription cards, redeemable at pharmacies that employees themselves locate on Medtipster.com. The idea is to encourage generic drug purchasing over brand name drugs, and to reduce current and future healthcare costs to the employer.

It works like this example:

Sandy takes Zocor.

Sandy works for ABC123 Inc. and they have partnered with Medtipster.com.

ABC123 informs Sandy that her prescription is available for free if she logs on to the company website portal.

Sandy locates her generic equivalent at her neighborhood pharmacy, then prints out her custom ID card from the company’s privately labeled Medtipster.com site.

Sandy takes her ID card to this participating pharmacy and receives her prescription for Zocor generic equivalent for free.

Because the participating pharmacy has Zocor on a $4 generic program, Medtipster sends ABC123 an invoice for $4, plus a small administration fee.

Looking back at the example in the second paragraph above, this saves the employer an average of $17 per employee’s generic prescription. If you work for a company that employees 1,000 people, and half of those employees take a monthly generic prescription, they spend on average $102,000 each year covering “remaining” costs of their employees’ prescriptions. With the Medtipster MVP, the same company would spend an average of just $24,000 each year, for the SAME generic prescriptions! That’s $78,000 A YEAR!

$78,000 A YEAR.

I like to repeat myself when it sounds that good.

If you would like to see your employer save this kind of money every year, and get free prescriptions, let us know what you think. Let us know who we should talk to at your company about implementing this program. Let’s save some money, and change the way we think about prescription plans.

Switch it Up and Save

February 02, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Medtipster, Prescription Savings

The idea of saving money is the sole reason why people go to different stores for different items, if they know ahead of time they can spend less to get the same item. Why would prescriptions be any different, I suppose?

We at Medtipster.com encourage you to use our database to find the pharmacy with your specific prescription available on a pharmacy’s $4 generic program close to your home. If you’re taking several medications, this could mean you have several different pharmacy visits every month or every three months. It seems like it makes sense, but then again, does it have to be this way?

Pharmacies want your business. They want to keep you as a customer. Many offer gift cards and incentives to get you in there once, with every intention of keeping you. Next time you have a prescription, you’re already in the database, the pharmacy technician is familiar with your prescription history, and the hassle of a new pharmacy is obsolete. So, why wouldn’t they do what they have to do to keep you?

Price matching is something we hear all the time. This takes me back to my original question, why would prescriptions be any different, I suppose? They are not. Ask your pharmacy technician to match the price being offered at the next pharmacy! It can’t hurt to ask, and all they can say is, “no.”

Find your generics on Medtipster.com first then make a note of where the other generics are available on a generics program. Print the list, or go directly to the competing pharmacy and ask for a print out of the generic’s cost. Take that to the pharmacy of your choice and simply say, “I want to keep all of my prescriptions here, can you match the price of this competing pharmacy’s generic equivalent?”

Switch it up and save! Save time, gas money, and frustration.

Source: MSN Money http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SmartSpending/blog/page.aspx?post=1349052

Tylar Masters

Get Adobe Flash playerPlugin by wpburn.com wordpress themes