October is here, and I know you know what that means — Medicare Open Enrollment for 2020 is coming! That’s right, from October 15, 2019 all the way through December 7, 2019, your Medicare patients will be busy shopping for a Medicare plan for themselves or a family member. And they may need some help. In fact, 6 out of every 10 patients have multiple health plan options to choose from, and in a recent survey, 50% of patients reported picking the right health plan as a “very stressful” process.
Given all the variables related to health plans, including premiums, deductibles, copays, and more, it’s no surprise why so many patients find the process of picking a Medicare plan confusing and overwhelming. Mix in a constant barrage of phone calls and mailers full of different information, and the feelings of overwhelm compound. Not only are many of these plans a mismatch for your patients’ health and financial needs, but they more than often prohibit their ability to do business at your pharmacy. Now that’s what I like to call a big lose-lose proposition.
Don’t fret, because here’s the encouraging, uplifting, and heartwarming news: you can help. That’s right, you can play a pivotal role in simultaneously easing your patients’ burdens and preventing this mutually undesirable outcome. How, you ask? Great question.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Chances are, the only way you’ll ever know if your patients are overwhelmed and struggling to select a Medicare plan is if you ask them (which we recommend doing with a voice or text campaign — more on that here). It’s the perfect time of year to schedule a Medicare plan review and sit down with your patients to hear them out and make them aware of their best options. Even if it turns out that that a patient is all set, the act of reaching out and letting him or her know you are available to help with an important health decision communicates care.
Besides, the community pharmacist is the ideal candidate to provide these consultative services. Ideally, every patient would make health plan choices in concert with a care professional who knows their medication and health history. And who knows a patient’s medication history better than their pharmacist? The answer: probably nobody. Community pharmacists are uniquely positioned to help patients to compare options based on their specific health and medication needs. Furthermore, conducting a Medicare plan review is one of the best examples of how community pharmacists can go #BeyondTheFill and provide clinical services that will turn their pharmacy into a true healthcare destination.
As we’ve shared before, conducting plan reviews can have a positive impact on patient adherence and your EQuIPP Scores. Given that cost is a major factor in patient adherence, helping patients to find the best fit for their wallet and health needs could remove a barrier to adherence. With Open Enrollment fast approaching, don’t let the advertisements distract, overwhelm, and confuse your patients. As the community’s most accessible and knowledgeable provider, be the resource that eases your patients through the process and helps them find the right Medicare plan that addresses their needs.
We’re here to help your pharmacy prepare for Medicare Open Enrollment by making the following materials available to you: kits to spread the word about your pharmacy’s ability to help patients review their plan options (check those out here), patient outreach campaigns, trainings for how to conduct plan reviews, and our plan review tool — PrescribeMedicare. PrescribeMedicare already has all of your patients’ medications loaded and is able to compare plans based on cost for the patient. PrescribeMedicare even presents a side-by-side plan comparison, making it easy to show your patients their options. By providing your patients with all of the information they need, you are truly doing your part to help them make an important — and best — decision for their health.
If you’d like to learn more about any of these offerings, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 General Open Enrollment begins November 1, 2019 and ends December 15, 2019.