42 THE QUEENS COURIER • WELLNESS • MARCH 15, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Your Rx for answers and savings: Ask a pharmacist
Th ere’s no denying that prescription
drug coverage and medications can be
Enter UnitedHealthcare Medicare &
Retirement’s Chief Pharmacy Offi cer
Mike Anderson, PharmD, who has spent
his career navigating the ins and outs of
the Rx world.
Below, Anderson answers some common
questions people ask about drug
coverage and prescriptions.
Q. What’s the diff erence
between PDP and MA-PD
A. Original Medicare doesn’t provide
coverage for most prescription drugs,
so for help paying for medications,
you have two options: a standalone
Part D prescription drug plan (PDP)
in addition to Original Medicare or
Original Medicare and a Medicare supplement
plan; or a Medicare Advantage
plan with prescription drug coverage
(MAPD). Medicare Advantage plans
can include additional benefits like
dental, vision and hearing coverage,
and combine your coverage into a single
plan. Both plans are offered by private
insurance companies contracted
Q. How do I know if my
prescriptions are covered
by my Medicare plan?
A. Whether you get coverage through
Medicare Advantage or a standalone Part
D plan, each has a formulary, a list of prescription
drugs covered. You’ll want to
look closely to make sure your medications
are covered. Health insurers post
plan formularies online, or you can call
your plan to request a printed version.
Keep in mind that plans can change from
year to year, so don’t assume that prescription
drugs covered this year will
always carry over.
Q. How can I save money while
remaining on my medications?
A. Th ere are many ways to do that:
Home-delivery pharmacy benefi ts can
save money and a trip to the pharmacy.
Some mail-order pharmacies off er the
convenience of ordering a three-month
supply of drugs delivered to your home
for less than purchasing at a retail location.
If you prefer to visit a pharmacy, check
if your plan off ers programs or preferred
pharmacy networks to help you save on
Switching to generic drugs or drugs on
a lower tier of the formulary is another
step that could save money. If you are
taking brand-name medications now, discuss
generic alternatives with your doctor.
Q. Can I split my pills in half?
A. Talk to your doctor about whether
pill-splitting for your medication is medically
advised. Also, consult your pharmacist
on whether the actual pill form presents
risks. Some pills are dangerous when
split, because splitting aff ects how quickly
the drug is released into your body.
Other pills become ineff ective when split,
because the pill contains a coating to protect
it from stomach acid, and splitting
the pill breaks that coating.
Q. I take a lot of pills daily. One
I take three times a day. Some
I just take once. I get busy and
forget to take my pills. Can I just
take them all in the morning?
A. It’s important to take your medicine
as your doctor prescribed it. Some medications
need to be taken at specifi c times
to be eff ective. Plus, taking all your medications
at one time can be dangerous
as you run the risk of potential adverse
interactions, side eff ects and even overdosing.
Q. I drink smoothies with supplements
and take vitamins.
Can these have a bad interaction
with my prescriptions?
A. Th at’s a great question. If an iron
supplement was added to the smoothie,
for example, that could reduce the eff ectiveness
of thyroid medication and medication
for refl ux disease. Talk to your
pharmacist and doctor about vitamins
and supplements to learn if they could
cause a reaction or make your medications
less eff ective.
Q. I just got my medication
refi lled. It used to be a different
color and shape. Why
does it look diff erent?
A. More than likely, the pharmacy you
use bought their supply from a diff erent
manufacturer. Drug companies that
make the same medication must keep
the chemical formula the same but may
change the shape or color. As long as you
verify it’s the same medication and dose,
it should work just like before. If you have
concerns, talk with your pharmacist.
For more information to help you navigate
prescription drug coverage, visit