Part D Perspectives: National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations

Part D Perspectives: National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations

12.06.12 | By Kaelan Hollon

Below is the latest guest post in our "Part D Perspectives" series, which we'll be hosting throughout the year to share thoughts on the program and its importance.

Rebecca Snead, executive vice president of the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, shares her views on the role of pharmacists and Part D as the 2013 open enrollment period comes to an end on Dec. 7:

The National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA), founded in 1927, is an organization representing 50 state pharmacy associations. NASPA promotes leadership, sharing, learning and policy exchange among state pharmacy associations and pharmacy leaders, and provides education and advocacy to support pharmacists, patients and communities working together to improve public health.

Medicare Part D is an important issue to NASPA due to the extensive role that pharmacists play in the program. Pharmacists educate beneficiaries by answering their questions about the program and walk them through the open enrollment process. When I served on the Federal Advisory Committee for Part D during the program's implementation, I reviewed initial research that suggested pharmacists would likely field one-third of all Part D questions, while physicians were likely to answer approximately half. Ultimately, however, about 80 percent of seniors relied on their pharmacist to advise them and guide them through the process.

Community pharmacists are a trusted source of information and are vital to patients that seek assistance during open enrollment. One's ability to choose the most appropriate Part D program stems from knowing which questions to ask. Pharmacists act as a needed advocate to help individuals assess the many factors that impact their coverage including the cost of copayments, monthly premiums, whether their medications are on tiered levels, and if their pharmacy is approved to cover the plan they select. Community pharmacists also provide medication therapy management to their patients; a valuable benefit to guide patients to better health outcomes.

In particular, pharmacist advocates understand the value of comparison shopping and have the necessary institutional knowledge to help consumers make sound decisions. As we age, the status of our health changes, so the plan that was best for us a few years ago may no longer be the best option. This is why the open enrollment period is so significant; it allows the patient to be proactive in making adjustments that will benefit their specific needs.

Medicare has come a long way; it now ensures that beneficiaries have access to all appropriate medications and helps to manage the health of our country. We want to make sure those who are eligible take advantage of all it has to offer, and we have found that this process often begins with a conversation between patients and their local pharmacist.

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