Rx and Medicare: Common costs of prescription drugs

Don’t underestimate the value of Medicare drug coverage

It’s rare to read stories about rising healthcare costs that don’t include a focus on the high cost of prescription drugs.

Rising costs are particularly an issue if you depend on maintenance medications for long-term health issues like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Thankfully, your Medicare choices can help you manage your costs. Basically, you have 2 options, and both are plans available through private insurers approved by Medicare:

The amount you’ll pay for prescription medications depends on your plan choice. Some factors you’ll want to consider include what types of medication you need, whether those medications are included in your plan’s Drug List and if your pharmacy is in the plan network.

To see if a plan is right for you, you’ll want to check the plan’s Drug List.

Many commonly prescribed drugs are available as generics, which are generally much less expensive. Follow this link to learn more about the difference between brand and generic drugs.

Some of the most common prescriptions for older adults

Any of these look familiar?

  • Lisinopril – An ACE inhibitor used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure and also to improve survival after a heart attack
  • Levothyroxine sodium – The synthetic version of a thyroid hormone used to treat hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, as well as thyroid cancer
  • Amlodipine besylate – A calcium channel blocker taken to lower high blood pressure and prevent angina, or chest pain
  • Simvastatin – One of a group of drugs called statins, which lower cholesterol and help reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke
  • Hydrocodone-acetaminophen – Also known as Vicodin, Lorcet and Lortab, a combination of hydrocodone (a narcotic painkiller) and acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) used to treat pain and inflammation
  • Azithromycin (generic for Zithromax, Z-PAK) – An antibiotic used to treat many different types of infections caused by bacteria
  • Hydrochlorothiazide (various brand names) – A water pill used to lower blood pressure
  • Metformin HCI– Helps control blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes

Source

  1. Omudhome Ogbru, “Top 10 Drugs Prescribed in the U.S.,” MedicineNet, last accessed September 23, 2019, https://www.medicinenet.com/top_drugs_prescribed_in_the_us/views.htm, opens new window.

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