BISMARCK, N.D.-A just-released national study indicates that 33 percent of Americans with a Medicare prescription drug plan living in the Northern Plains region fell into the coverage gap in 2007, leaving them to pay 100 percent of their prescription medication costs. That percentage is the second highest in the nation. North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm reminds consumers that need help in the coverage gap, also called the donut hole, to call the Insurance Department for assistance.
"The Insurance Department's Prescription Connection program can help consumers save money on their medications while they are in the donut hole," Hamm said. "The program connects consumers with discount cards and free or discounted medications from pharmaceutical companies." Applicants are also screened for low-income subsidy help for those who are Medicare-eligible.
The Northern Plains region included North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming. This coverage gap data comes from a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. According to the national study, one in four Medicare Part D enrollees that filled any prescriptions in 2007 reached the coverage gap, half entering the gap by the end of August.
"This study confirms what we already know from our program statistics," Hamm said. "Thousands of North Dakotans are falling into the donut hole right now and they need help."
After out-of-pocket costs reach $4,050 in 2008, consumers are eligible for catastrophic coverage, where they are responsible for only five percent of their total drug costs. However, the study indicates that the majority of people that fall into the coverage gap remain there through the end of the year.
"It's important to seek help during this time, rather than stopping medication use or skipping or splitting pills like many consumers do when they can't afford their medications," Hamm added.
For more information, call Prescription Connection at 1-888-575-6611.
The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit, private operating foundation focusing on the major health care issues facing the U.S.
Click here to see a 30-second video about how you can get help with prescription medications.