The truth about Medicare discount cards

by Caleb Reading

I just about fell out of my chair laughing when Cheney said those new drug cards are saving seniors 30% on their prescription drugs. Where the heck did he pull that from? I’m a pharmacy technician. The huge majority of our medicare-aged patients don’t qualify for the $600 per year. In order to get the $600, your income from all sources (including SS) must be no more than $12,569 if single and $16,862 for a married couple. If covered, the patient must pay either 5 or 10% of the cost up front and the rest is deducted from their $600. The discount cards for everybody else don’t provide a better discount than the cards our store was giving out for free (and the medicare-approved cards usually cost $30 per year to boot).

Of the few people we serve that did qualify, all of them are barely-scraping-by widows, and the $600 is probably not even going to cover 30% of the drugs they use this year. Some of them ran through the $600 in the first two months, paying $30 or $60 out of pocket those two months and now paying everything out of pocket just as they did before this plan.

I’d really like to know what numbers Cheney was looking at when he claimed the new drug cards are saving seniors 30%. Was he meaning to say the new drug cards are saving the slim minority of seniors who qualify 30% and saving the rest exactly what they would have been saving beforehand if they enrolled for a free discount card? I think most of the pharmacists and techs who were watching that debate reflexively yelled “BULLSHIT” when he said that.