44 THE QUEENS COURIER • HEALTH • APRIL 5, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Your Rx for answers and savings: Ask a pharmacist
There’s no denying that prescription
drug coverage and medications can be
Enter UnitedHealthcare Medicare &
Retirement’s Chief Pharmacy Officer
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 difference between PDP
and MA-PD plans?
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. There are many ways to do that:
Home-delivery pharmacy benefits can
save money and a trip to the pharmacy.
Some mail-order pharmacies offer 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 offers 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 affects how quickly
the drug is released into your body.
Other pills become ineffective 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 specific times
to be effective. Plus, taking all your medications
at one time can be dangerous
as you run the risk of potential adverse
interactions, side effects and even overdosing.
Q. I drink smoothies with supplements
and take vitamins. Can these
have a bad interaction with my prescriptions?
A. That’s a great question. If an iron
supplement was added to the smoothie,
for example, that could reduce the effectiveness
of thyroid medication and medication
for reflux disease. Talk to your
pharmacist and doctor about vitamins
and supplements to learn if they could
cause a reaction or make your medications
Q. I just got my medication refilled. It
used to be a different color and shape.
Why does it look different?
A. More than likely, the pharmacy you
use bought their supply from a different
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
Multi Specialty Physical
95 East Merrick Road, Valley Stream, NY 11580
• Pain Management
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We accept most types of Insurance & Workers Compensation
Please call to make an appointment: 516-218-2225