How to make your Medicare patients the priority

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Be there for your Medicare patients this open enrollment

In brief:

  • Medicare accounts for nearly one-third of U.S. spending on prescription drugs.
  • More than 25% of Medicare patients don’t know how to research drug plan options.
  • By helping Medicare patients research plan options you solidify your position as a trusted resource.

Medicare patients are a large group and are extremely important to pharmacies. Consider that: 1,2

Patients aren’t aware

Many Medicare patients may be paying too much. By choosing the right Part D plan, patients may be able to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses by 30%, saving thousands of dollars per year. (See Many Customers Don’t Have the Best Drug Plan.)

Finding the best plan can be so daunting that many patients don’t even try.3

Start a conversation

Help patients find the best plan by encouraging them to talk with your staff. Counter cards and buttons can prompt patients to ask questions and schedule a consultation.

Translate insurance terms

Choosing plan options requires having a basic understanding of terms. Yet more than 40% of working-age Americans can’t define “deductible.”4

Take time with patients to discuss important terms in ways they will understand. For example, “When you fill prescriptions at a preferred pharmacy you pay less.”

Remember, you are not allowed to steer patients toward a plan. However, you should let customers know when you are a preferred pharmacy under Part D plans.

Accommodate special needs

Be able to communicate with all Medicare patients.

  • Nearly 15% are deaf or hard of hearing5
  • Nearly 8% are blind or have low vision6
  • About 8% have limited English proficiency

Strategies for assisting patients with special needs include:

  • Keep special needs in mind as you plan materials and communications
  • Consult with patients in private areas
  • Consider providing educational videos with headsets patients can use
  • Make sure print sizes are large enough for patients with low vision
  • Note a patient’s preferred language in your records and consider hiring bilingual staff or trained interpreters

Making Medicare patients a priority

Medicare patients are valuable to your pharmacy. Not only do they fill many prescriptions, but Part D covers some vaccines that are not included under Part B, including the shingles shot.7 Make Medicare patients a high priority during open enrollment and throughout the year.

Note: The information provided here is for reference use only and does not constitute the rendering of legal or other professional advice by McKesson. Readers should consult appropriate professionals for advice and assistance prior to making important decisions regarding their business. McKesson is not advocating any particular program or approach herein. McKesson is not responsible for, nor will it bear any liability for, the content provided herein.

1 “Number of Retail Prescription Drugs Filled at Pharmacies by Payer,” Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. LINK
2 “Who Relies on Medicare? A Profile of the Medicare Population,” Olivia Dean, Claire Noel-Miller, and Keith Lind, AARP Public Policy Institute, November 9, 2017. LINK
3 “65% of Seniors on Medicare Are Unfamiliar with Medicare Advantage,” Better Medicare Alliance, October 31, 2017. LINK
4 “Improving Consumer Understanding of Medicare Advantage,” Better Medicare Alliance, March 2018. LINK
5 “Understanding Communication and Language Needs of Medicare Beneficiaries,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, April 2017. LINK
6 “Understanding Communication and Language Needs of Medicare Beneficiaries,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, April 2017. LINK
7 “Part D-Covered Vaccinations,” Medicare Interactive, Medicare Rights Center, 2018. LINK