Three Ways to Get the Most From Your Pharmacy Benefits

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Up to half of adults don’t follow their medication regimen. The main reason? Forgetfulness. The next three reasons – running out of medication, being away from home, or skipping doses to save money – can be alleviated with a little planning and research.

Nearly half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug, and more than a third of people over 45 take three or more prescription drugs. That can be a lot to juggle. Drug costs are no joke, either. In 2015, the U.S. spent $310 billion on prescription drugs – that’s about $1,000 per person.

Knowing how to get the most from your prescription benefits can help you manage the logistics and costs of your family’s medications.  

1. Ask your experts to help you save money

Enlist your team of prescription pros – your doctor, pharmacist and health plan – for help:

  • Find a network pharmacy. Do this by checking your plan’s directory online or call the number on the back of your ID card. You may pay less at these pharmacies.
  • Ask your doctor to prescribe the medication that meets your needs at the lowest expense to you. Your health plan may provide tools so your doctors know what each prescription will cost you.
  • Check your enrollment materials or visit your health plan’s website for information on how to download your health plan’s app to manage your medications on the go and use drug-pricing tools with your health plan’s app or website to see how much your medications will cost.
  • Explore options with your doctor and pharmacist. Your best value may come from home delivery, receiving a 90-day supply at once.

2. Avoid a scramble

Sidestep the pitfalls of running out of medicine by:

  • Having medication on hand before you travel or switch to home delivery. Aim to have a month’s supply before a home-delivery transition.
  • Setting automatic refill reminders with your pharmacy, so you aren’t caught unprepared.
  • Contacting your pharmacy several days before you run out of medication to request a refill. Your pharmacist may need to contact your doctor for approval, or your doctor may want to evaluate your condition first.
  • Understanding preauthorization – for some medicines, your doctor will need to provide additional information to confirm the reason you are taking the medication to ensure it’s covered under your pharmacy benefit.

3. Lean on apps, auto-reminders and online tools

Today, medication information is more accessible than ever. Check your enrollment materials or your health plan’s website for information on how to manage your pharmacy benefits online or on the go via your plan’s app.

Following your medication regimen is an important part of staying healthy.  Don’t be shy about asking how to get medicine you can afford, in a way that’s convenient for you.

High Blood Pressure Remains a Silent Killer, Especially Among African Americans

 

If you haven’t seen your doctor lately, you’re probably unaware that you could have high blood pressure, which means your life is at risk. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about half of American adults have high blood pressure, and most are unaware that they have it.

High blood pressure – also called hypertension – is known as the “silent killer” because it can emerge with no warning signs and cause stroke, heart disease, heart attacks and kidney failure. There is also a financial cost. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says high blood pressure costs the nation $46 billion each year which includes health care services, medications, and missed days of work.  

High blood pressure is especially dangerous for African Americans. According to the AHA, high blood pressure begins earlier in life and is usually more severe in African Americans, with 59 percent of men and 56 percent of women affected. Common theories as to why this is the case are genetic factors and higher rates of obesity and diabetes.

April is recognized by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department as National Minority Health Month, a good reminder to schedule an annual doctor visit and learn your critical health numbers such as blood pressure.  

Since high blood pressure can develop slowly over time, it’s important to have it measured regularly. Talk with your doctor to understand your risk factors and discuss whether your blood pressure is in a healthy range.

Although there is no cure for high blood pressure, here are tips to best manage the condition.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Keep an eye on your Body Mass Index, which uses your height and weight to estimate your body fat. Ask your doctor what a healthy BMI is for you.
  • Eat healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, lean meat, low-fat dairy, fish and whole grains. Avoid salt and limit foods high in sodium that elevate blood pressure, while adding potassium to your diet.
  • Get your heart pumping and MOVE. Combine aerobic exercise — for a recommended 90 to 150 minutes every week — with resistance exercises.
  • Limit alcohol. If you choose to drink, do so only in moderation. That means no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two for men.
  • Manage stress. Find tension-relievers that work for you. Maybe that’s reading a book, listening to music or doing deep breathing. Exercise like a brisk walk is a proven stress buster too. And since it’s also a plus for healthy blood pressure, consider it doubly good.

If lifestyle changes don’t work, your doctor may prescribe medicine to help get your blood pressure numbers under control. If you haven’t seen your doctor lately, schedule an appointment today. It may just save your life.  

For more easy-to-understand information about health and wellness, visit the UHC Newsroom.