Everyone is affected by the rising costs of health care, but the spotlight is often focused on seniors. We know seniors usually need more medications to stay healthy. But is this something we’ll all just have to deal with and save for one day, or is it a serious issue?

This issue has gotten a lot of attention in the media in the past few years, but somehow, prices for drugs most commonly used by seniors are still rising at an alarming rate. Of course, with inflation and new drugs on the market, overall prices will go up, but the change in price of specific drugs, like Lipitor, are going up at a rate sometimes double or quadruple the rate of inflation. While many pharmaceutical companies say these profits are needed for research and development, often the extra money simply goes into profits.

While we hear a lot about seniors paying too much for prescriptions, most people don’t realize seniors are often charged more than younger individuals for the exact same prescription drugs. There was a study done in Arizona that showed seniors were charged about twice as much for prescriptions than the lowest prices given to preferred customers.

In addition to paying higher prices than many others for drugs, seniors generally have less prescription coverage and have to pay more money out of pocket for their medications. While Medicare has changed and can offer a prescription drug plan, often this is not enough to keep the costs within a senior’s budget. The coverage is confusing to say the least and many seniors don’t understand their benefits and options. When they can’t decipher the program, it is very hard to benefit from it.

So what does this all mean for seniors? Many of them face this issue with very few options. Studies have shown that many seniors simply skip doses or stop taking prescriptions altogether to cut back on costs. Others skimp in other ways by not eating enough or by cutting down on other essentials.

The good news is that there is some help. There are many resources, such as the AARP, that can help you decipher the Medicare part D prescription plans so you can choose the best option. However, many seniors don’t have time or easy access to many of these resources and go without.

If you don’t have enough insurance to cover the costs of prescription drugs, you may also be able to look into prescription discount programs. These are not insurance companies; they are companies that negotiate a discounted prescription rate for their members. It’s not as good as insurance plans, but it can often provide some relief.

Many larger companies have started offering $4 generics to help lighten the financial load for seniors and other customers. This has been a great help for many people; however, it doesn’t cover all generic medications and it doesn’t provide any assistance to those who need to take newer medicines that are not yet offered as generics.

While it may take some time, researching these options should find you or a loved one needed help in paying for costly prescription drugs.

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