cold and cough - blog image

By Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD

The cold and flu season is in full swing, and hacking, persistent, and annoying coughs are at their peak. If you are suffering from these symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a cough medication, such as benzonatate (Tessalon Perles). Before heading to a pharmacy near you to pick up your medication, here some facts you should know about benzonatate.

What Is Benzonatate?

Benzonatate is a nonopioid (nonnarcotic) antitussive (cough suppressant) that is used to relieve cough if you have a cold or the flu, or if you have a chronic cough that does not respond to opioid cough suppressants. It is not used for chronic cough related to smoking, asthma, or emphysema, or when your cough produces large amounts of phlegm or mucus.

Looking for the best price on benzonatate?

How Does Benzonatate Help with Cough?

Benzonatate is related to a type of drug called ester local anesthetics. It works locally by numbing the stretch receptors in your lungs, throat, and airways. When you breathe, you stimulate these stretch receptors, which causes you to cough. By numbing the stretch receptors, benzonatate inhibits their action and reduces your cough reflex. It begins to work within 15 to 20 minutes of taking the medication and generally lasts for 3 to 8 hours.

What Is the Best Way to Take Benzonatate?

If your healthcare provider prescribes benzonatate, you should follow the instructions on your medicine label. Prescribers may dose this medication differently for different people.

Typically, patients take 100 mg to 200 mg of benzonatate up to three times per day, or every 8 hours. The maximum dose of benzonatate is 600 mg per day. If you take benzonatate capsules, you should swallow them whole. The capsules should not be opened, chewed, broken, dissolved, cut, or crushed. The liquid inside benzonatate capsules can temporarily numb your mouth and throat, suppress your gag reflex, and place you at risk of choking. If you accidentally chew or break a capsule in your mouth, do not eat or drink until the numbing effects have worn off.

Who Can Take Benzonatate?

Benzonatate is indicated for adults and children 10 years and older. It is vital to keep benzonatate capsules in childproof containers and away from children. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that benzonatate can cause death in children under 10 years of age who accidentally take the medication. In fact, children younger than 2 years of age have overdosed with as few as one or two capsules.

If your child accidentally takes this medication, call the poison control center (1-800-222-1222) and immediately get emergency care.

You should not use benzonatate if:

  • You are allergic to ester local anesthetics, such as benzocaine, procaine, or tetracaine. Lidocaine is not an ester anesthetic.
  • You are allergic to para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA).
  • You have difficulty swallowing.

Can I Take Benzonatate If I Am Pregnant or Nursing?

If you are pregnant, you should talk with your obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) before taking any medication.

Benzonatate is pregnancy category C, meaning that it should be used if the potential benefits of the medication outweigh the potential risks. A conversation with your ob-gyn will help you decide if benzonatate is safe for you and your baby.

According to the manufacturer, it is not known if benzonatate passes to breast milk. Given the lack of information, you may prefer to use an alternative cough medication if you are nursing.

What Are the Side Effects of Benzonatate?

All medications have side effects, but not everyone experiences them the same way. If you are taking benzonatate, you should be aware of the following potential side effects:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Mental confusion
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Constipation
  • Nausea (upset stomach)
  • Itching or rash
  • Chills
  • Nasal congestion
  • Numbing of the chest
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Eye irritation

If any of these side effects are severe or bothersome, let your healthcare provider know right away.

How Much Does Benzonatate Cost?

The cost of benzonatate varies depending on where you live, where you shop, and your insurance coverage. The average retail price for thirty 100 mg benzonatate capsules is about $20. If your insurance does not cover cough medications, you can use a free Rx savings card to get the lowest prescription price.

How Do Prescription Discount Cards Work?

Prescription drug cards, or prescription savings cards, help you obtain the lowest prescription price for your medication. Sometimes, you may find that your insurance plan does not cover your medication or that the price with insurance is higher than the cost with a prescription savings card. Using prescription savings cards may save you up to 80% or more off the retail price. Be sure to compare prescription prices before filling your prescription. You can use ScriptSave WellRx discount card for the best discount at a pharmacy near you.

Rosanna Sutherby is a freelance medical writer who has been a practicing pharmacist in her community for close to 20 years. She obtained her Doctor of Pharmacy from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She utilizes her clinical training in the pharmacy, where she helps patients manage disease states such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and many others. Dr. Sutherby reviews and recommends drug regimens based on patients’ concurrent conditions and potential drug interactions.

References:

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/011210s053lbl.pdf

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/benzonatate-oral-route/description/drg-20062223

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3415124/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/benzonatate-oral-route/proper-use/drg-20062223

https://www.pdr.net/fda-drug-safety-communication/tessalon?druglabelid=1327&id=8411https://www.pdr.net/drug-summary/Benzonatate-benzonatate-3512.5759#11



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By Elizabeth Binsfield BA, RN

Helpful for Many

Many people receive health benefits from taking the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) Zoloft to manage specific conditions. Zoloft, also known by its generic name sertraline, is prescribed as treatment for conditions such as depression, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and a severe form of premenstrual syndrome called premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Having such a medication available to treat the symptoms of these disorders is a tremendous relief to those affected. But it’s very important to be aware of any potential interactions with other medications, both those prescribed and those purchased over the counter.

Get a free ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings card.

Side Effects of Zoloft

As with all medications, Zoloft, or sertraline, has potential side effects that you should be mindful of, especially when taking other medicines. If you take Zoloft, it’s important to check the possible side effects and interactions when preparing to take any other medications. Your doctor and pharmacist are important resources to call on to ensure you aren’t combining medications inappropriately.

Zoloft and other medications like it can make your blood somewhat thinner than it was before you began taking it. It can cause you to have nosebleeds or to bruise more easily. You might even find that scrapes and cuts take a little longer to stop bleeding while you’re on Zoloft. This is why it’s so important to learn more about the side effects of other medications to ensure you don’t make your blood even thinner still.

Side Effects of Ibuprofen

When we have headaches, general aches and pains, or even arthritis pain, we usually reach for what are called anti-inflammatory medications. One of the most commonly known is ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is a very helpful over the counter medication for a variety of ailments, but it also has potential side effects and interactions that are important to consider.

One of the primary concerns with the use of anti-inflammatory medications is their association with stomach upset. They are well known to cause stomach discomfort because they can disrupt the chemistry in our stomachs and cause ulcers with regular use. They also cause the blood to thin, and can lead to excessive bleeding with continuous use.

Dangers of Taking Zoloft and Ibuprofen Together

The health concerns related to thinner blood becomes more likely when you take multiple medications known to cause your blood to thin. The danger of thinner blood is that we are that much more likely to easily bleed. Nosebleeds can be one common occurrence, but of greater concern is the increased risk for bleeding in the brain, which can be extremely dangerous. If you frequently take ibuprofen for pain and you also take Zoloft, you’re at a greater risk for bleeding issues. In addition, if you are elderly, or have kidney or liver disease, your risk for bleeding is even greater.

Safer Pain Relief Options with Zoloft

For over-the-counter pain relief without the risk of thinning the blood, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a safer choice because it does not have the same side effects. However, you may want to discuss other options with your doctor. There may be topical medications or patches that the doctor determines are safe for you to use in addition to Tylenol. You may also be able to save as much as 80% on your Zoloft prescription and others by using ScriptSave ® WellRx. The WellRx website also offers free helpful tools for managing, tracking, and refilling your medications.

Elizabeth Binsfield, RN is a Richmond, Virginia-based registered nurse and freelance healthcare writer, who has more than 20 years of experience in medical-surgical acute care nursing, wound care, geriatrics, and home and hospice care. She received her nursing degree from Northern Virginia Community College.

References

https://www.drugs.com/sfx/zoloft-side-effects.html

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/22298763/ns/health-health_care/t/common-pill-combos-can-put-you-risk/#.XknErhNKjOQ

https://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/ibuprofen-with-zoloft-1310-0-2057-1348.html

https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20150714/antidepressant-painkiller-combo-may-raise-risk-of-brain-bleed#1

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/commentary-can-painkillers-cap-antidepressant-effect

https://www.wellrx.com/zoloft/drug-information/

https://www.healthline.com/health/pain-relief/ibuprofen-advil-side-effects#common-side-effects

https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-gastritis#1https://www.wellrx.com/



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By Joel Yambert, MS, BCMAS, Pharm.D. Candidate, Class of 2020
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy

Have you had a doctor tell you to stop taking a certain medication, or maybe you forgot to continue taking it for it a little bit—maybe the drug is even expired? What are you supposed to do with all these extra pills, patches, inhalers, or other medicines you no longer need? Luckily, there are a couple of different ways to get rid of unwanted or expired medications. These methods help keep the general population safe, and the environment, too.

DEA Drug Take Back Days

The DEA Diversion Control Division posts the next “Drug Take Back” dates on their website to inform people when and where they can dispose of their prescription drugs, while also providing education about potential abuse of medications.The drug take back days generally happen in April and October of each year. The next take back day (at the time of writing this article) is scheduled for April 25th, 2020.

The Legislative Agenda

Many states are creating laws and regulations in hopes that more people will be able to return their medications. In New York, the Drug Take Back Act (DTB) of Chapter 120 Laws of 2018 states that manufacturers establish, fund, and manage a New York state approved drug take back for the safe collection and disposal of unused covered drugs. Certain laws are pushing for it to become easier to return unused drugs for safe and proper collection at any time and not just on certain take back dates.

Drug Return, Recycle, and Reuse

There are other reasons to return your unused drugs, other than just freeing up space in your medicine cabinet. In many states, you can even donate the prescription drugs and return them to be recycled and reused for other patients. As of Fall 2018, there were 38 states that enacted laws for reuse and donation.

For example, Iowa started a program in 2007 and it has since helped 71,000 patients and redistributed $17.7 million in free supplies and medications to people in need. That is a huge help to others who are struggling to afford their prescriptions by simply returning your unused medications.

Are you paying too much for your medications?

What Cannot be Taken Back

Although it is encouraged to return almost all of your unused and expired medications to these take back locations, there are certain items that cannot be returned:

  • Needles, syringes, or other sharps
  • Thermometers
  • Empty containers
  • Bloody or infectious waste
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Illicit drugs (marijuana, cocaine, etc.), and more.

Almost every other prescription-medication related can be taken back. But, if the location is not able to take an item back, then they will likely be able to tell you the best place to get rid of it instead.

Safety Above All Else

The main concern for these drug take back programs is the safety of people, animals, and the environment. Drugs can end up in drinking water or being ingested by animals. Even when people use the restroom, there can sometimes still be trace amounts of unmetabolized drug making it back into drinking water after treatment. 

Programs like “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” are vital in protection and well-being of our water supply and lives. The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found 6.2 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs, mostly from family and friends—frequently from the medicine cabinet.

With current events like the opioid crisis occurring, it is not in anyone’s best interest to keep those kinds of drugs around. Additionally, it is not a good idea to throw them in the trash. People seeking drugs often dig through garbage looking for these particular drugs. So the next time you open the cabinet and see your unused or unfinished medications, it may be time to find when and where your next drug take back is taking place.

References:

  1. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html
  2. https://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/narcotic/drug_take_back.htm
  3. https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-prescription-drug-return-reuse-and-recycling.aspx
  4. http://www.takebackyourmeds.org/what-you-can-do/what-can-you-take-back/
  5. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016.pdf


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5 heart problem signs - blog image

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

It’s hard to miss the classic presentation of a heart attack—hands clutching the chest in agony, sweating, rapid breathing. Whether in movies, drug commercials, or television shows, popular media have likely drilled the warning signs into your head. Even more nuanced signs of a heart problem, such as neck, arm, or jaw pain, tend to get our attention in a hurry. However, some heart problems make themselves known with signs that are far more subtle. 

Don’t be caught off guard when it comes to protecting your own and your loved ones’ hearts. Read on to learn five signs of a heart problem that are worth worrying about. 

1. Passing Out with No Warning

Fainting can occur for many reasons, including exhaustion, emotional distress, illness, dehydration, rising quickly from a seated position, or a brain condition. Usually, such episodes of fainting, also known as syncope, come with warning signs such as lightheadedness, dizziness, weak legs, or tunnel vision. However, fainting without any preceding clues could be caused by an electrical heart problem.

Typically, electricity drives the normal functioning of the heart. However, when the heart’s chambers receive certain abnormal electrical signals, the chambers can start pumping out of sync, creating a condition called complete heart block. The heart rate slows and blood pressure drops, causing your heart to temporarily stop sending blood to your brain. This can cause you to faint.

The causes of heart block include structural abnormalities in the heart, inflammation, infection, heart attack, surgical procedures, certain genetic abnormalities, or certain medications. If you or a loved one is experiencing episodic fainting, follow up with a healthcare provider immediately.

2. Getting Winded During Normal Activities

If you notice a sudden change in your ability to perform your normal daily activities, such as grocery shopping or walking up a flight of stairs, it could be caused by a problem with your heart.

As a muscle, the heart contracts in a coordinated effort to pump blood throughout the body, pushing blood from chamber to chamber and then out to the body. If one of the valves between the chambers becomes too narrow (due to infection, cumulative damage, or a structural problem), the heart has to work harder to pump blood. This increased pumping effort can cause you to feel more tired than usual during your normal activities. 

One specific valve that can become too narrow is the aortic valve. This valve, which sits on the left side of the heart, is the doorway between the heart and the rest of the blood network. If your healthcare provider suspects you have this heart condition, known as aortic stenosis, he or she will listen to your heart with a stethoscope to check for a murmur and likely order an ultrasound of the heart to better evaluate what is going on. 

3. Fast Weight Gain Without Explanation

Some types of weight gain can be easily explained by a few too many holiday parties, an ice cream marathon, or a bum knee that derails a workout routine. However, rapid weight gain without explanation could be a sign of a heart problem called heart failure.

When the heart is pumping (which is all the time, hopefully!), it relies on a series of mechanisms to keep blood flowing throughout the body. Typically, this is a beautifully orchestrated feedback loop: the heart beats, pushing blood to the kidneys and other organs; the kidneys filter out waste and excess fluid, creating urine; and the blood then is returned to the heart. However, if the heart weakens, it can’t keep up with the cycle, triggering a backup in the plumbing system. Fluid will start to accumulate in the body, outside of the blood vessel network, in places such as the legs, abdomen, or lungs. Retaining excess fluid in this manner can cause sudden weight gain.

Heart failure can come on gradually or suddenly. There are many causes or risk factors, including coronary artery disease, cigarette smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, aging, infection, pregnancy, illicit drug use, and heart valve problems. Follow up with your healthcare provider for urgent evaluation if you are experiencing rapid weight gain that has no clear explanation.

4. Shortness of Breath When Lying in Bed

Shortness of breath that increases when you are lying flat can also be a sign of heart failure. When fluid backs up into the lungs, it can cause orthopnea, or feeling airless (short of breath) when lying down. Many people with heart failure will compensate by increasing the number of pillows they use to sleep so they are in a more upright position. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing this sign, follow up with your healthcare provider immediately for a thorough medical evaluation. Many people with heart failure are able to control their condition using medication. If you are prescribed a medicine, visit ScriptSave® WellRx to find the lowest prescription price.

5. Dizziness

Dizziness is a cardinal sign of many heart conditions, particularly problems with the heart’s rhythm. One common heart rhythm problem is atrial fibrillation, or “a-fib.” When the heart switches into a-fib, it beats rapidly in an irregularly erratic pattern, which results in inconsistent delivery of blood to the brain. This sporadic brain perfusion from the variability in blood delivery to the brain can cause the symptom of dizziness.

Atrial fibrillation can be caused by coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, age, infection, or hormonal problems. If you or a loved one is feeling dizzy, especially if you also have a noticeably rapid heartbeat, seek medical attention immediately.

Putting It All Together

Some signs of a heart problem are subtle. If you are experiencing any of the five signs above, follow up with a medical provider immediately. If, after a thorough evaluation, you are diagnosed with a heart condition, you will likely be prescribed a medication. Make sure to check out ScriptSave WellRx at a pharmacy near you to receive the lowest prescription price. 


References:

Cleveland Clinic, Heart Block

Cardio Smart, American College of Cardiology, Aortic Stenosis

Mayo Clinic, Heart Failure

Harvard Health, Atrial Fibrillation

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine, where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University. 



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While employer health insurance and government programs like Medicare offer prescription coverage for many Americans, there are still a large number of people who fall through the coverage gap. 

Patient assistance programs (PAPs) are offered by many pharmaceutical manufacturers. These programs provide eligible patients with access to brand-name medications at little or no cost.

There are a growing number of PAPs available in the U.S. While most of these programs are funded by drug companies, there is an increasing number offered by states, local governments, and non-profit organizations. Regardless of the organization offering them, PAPs can be a big help to anyone who is unable to afford their medication.

How Patient Assistance Programs Work

Patient assistance programs provide medications for free or at a reduced cost for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured and can’t afford their medication.

Each program differs, however, most will require patients to complete an application form. Some programs may also require financial and medical information from the applicant. In addition, almost every PAP will require some level of information from your doctor. Some programs only request your doctor’s signature while others may require your doctor complete a form. 

Once you have been accepted by the program, your medication may be delivered in several different ways. Some PAPs distribute the medication directly to your doctor’s office, some will send it to a pharmacy, and others may send the medication directly to you. 

Qualifying For Patient Assistance Programs

Eligibility requirements will vary for each patient assistance program. However, there are a number of common requirements that patients must meet to qualify for a program. 

  • Health requirements – Organizations often require patients to provide proof of need for the drug. A written prescription for the medication is often enough, but some programs may require additional documentation, including signed forms from the patient’s doctor.
  • Insurance Requirements – Patients will typically have to provide proof that they are uninsured, under insured, or that their insurance plan does not cover the medication or medical supply.
  • Financial Requirements – Income is another qualifying factor considered by organizations offering PAPs. In order to qualify, patients must demonstrate a financial need. PAPs often use the Federal Poverty Guidelines to establish qualifying income thresholds and some will use tiered eligibility requirements; in other words, a patient in the lowest income tier may receive the medication completely free, while someone in the next eligibility tier will receive the medication at a discount.

Each PAP’s benefits will vary widely and they often have different requirements for patients. If you’re unsure of the program’s requirements, programs will often have a support line you can contact with questions. 

Patient Assistance Programs vs. Prescription Discount Cards

While looking for help to save on prescriptions, you might come across information about both PAPs and prescription discount cards. While both are meant to help individuals lower their prescription costs, they differ in how they work and who is eligible

You might also find information about manufacturer copay coupons. These programs can also provide significant savings to patients who qualify for them. You can read more about how they work in the blog post, “What Are Drug Coupons, Why Do They Exist and How Do They Work?

Unlike PAPs and copay coupons, most prescription discount cards, including the ScriptSave WellRx discount card, are available to anyone, regardless of financial or insurance status. Additionally, you are not required to involve your doctor or meet any medical requirements to use your discount card.

While PAPs are usually sponsored directly by pharmaceutical companies, prescription discount card programs help people save by negotiating discounted cash prices on both generic and brand name medications. Patients can then receive lower cost prescriptions by showing their discount card at participating pharmacies.

Related Article: Rx Discount Cards vs Drug Coupons

Prescription Savings With ScriptSave WellRx

ScriptSave WellRx is freely available to anyone and is accepted at thousands of pharmacies across the U.S. If you’re searching for savings on your prescription medications, get your ScriptSave WellRx discount card and start saving today.



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Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, is a health insurance plan offered by private insurance companies that have been approved by Medicare. Advantage plans give you the option to enroll in a single policy that contains the same coverage as Medicare Parts A and B, as well as prescription drug coverage.

With so many parts and plan options, Medicare can be confusing. We’ll explain everything you need to know about Medicare Advantage plans, and whether they’re right for you.

How Is Medicare Part C Different from the Other Parts of Medicare?

A major difference between Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans and Original Medicare plans is the insurance providers. While the U.S. government provides the coverage on Original Medicare plans, Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurers who are vetted by the government.

Medicare Advantage plans and Original Medicare also differ in coverage. Original Medicare consists of Part A, B, and D. Part A covers inpatient services like hospitalization or care in a skilled nursing facility. Part B covers outpatient care such as routine doctor visits, lab tests, and preventative care. Part D provides coverage for prescription drugs.

Medicare Advantage plans provide the same coverage as Part A and Part B, as well as prescription drug coverage that varies with each plan. Since private insurers offer Medicare Advantage plans, drug formularies vary.

Find discounts on drugs not covered by your Medicare Part C plan:

Some Part C plans can also provide additional vision and dental benefits that may not be covered by Original Medicare. They may even give you extra wellness benefits like discounted gym memberships.

Is Medicare Advantage Right for Me?

Individual needs vary, so it’s important to compare your health insurance options and choose the coverage that is right for you. Here are some of the benefits of Medicare Advantage plans:

  • Same coverage as Medicare Part A and Part B.
  • Added benefits such as prescription drug coverage, dental, and vision (varies by plan).
  • Care coordination; under certain Part C plans, you can designate a Primary Care Physician (PCP) to help coordinate your care. Certain plans also provide medication therapy management.

Overall, a Part C plan offers more comprehensive coverage in one plan. If you were to enroll in an Original Medicare plan, you would have to elect for Part D prescription drug coverage separately, and dental and vision care would be limited. 

However, there are a few drawbacks to Medicare Advantage plans, including:

  • More limited provider networks
  • Special authorization or referral requirements

While Original Medicare plans allow you to see any provider who accepts Medicare, a Part C plan requires you to see a provider in that plan’s specific network. The Part C provider networks are usually regional, not national like Original Medicare. Additionally, your Part C plan may require you to obtain prior authorization for certain medical procedures or get a referral from your PCP to see a specialist.

Medicare Supplement Insurance

You may have heard about Medicare Supplement Insurance, or Medigap. Like Medicare Advantage plans, Medigap is offered by private health insurance providers. 

However, Medigap requires you to maintain Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. In fact, it is illegal for you to purchase Medicare Supplement Insurance if you have an Advantage Plan. If you currently have Medigap and are thinking of joining an Advantage Plan, you should contact your insurance company to drop your policy.

A Medigap policy is meant to help cover additional healthcare costs that Original Medicare does not, like:

  • Deductibles
  • Coinsurance
  • Copayments

As a supplement to Original Medicare, you must pay a separate monthly premium for your Medigap policy. This payment is made to the private insurer issuing the policy. 

It is important to note, Medigap policies are supplemental and only offer limited coverage. For example, policies may not cover:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Vision or dental care
  • Most long-term care
  • Private-duty nursing

In this regard, Medicare Advantage plans offer the benefit of an all-in-one comprehensive policy. 

Can I Be Turned Down For A Medicare Advantage Plan?

In general, if you are eligible for Medicare Parts A & B, then you will not be denied coverage by Part C. Patients with pre-existing medical conditions are also still eligible for Medicare Advantage plans. The only exception is for End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

Individuals with ESRD may be ineligible for most Medicare Advantage plans. However, certain Special Needs plans may still provide coverage. 

Medicare Advantage Plan Costs

Monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage plans can range from $0 to more than $300. Premiums vary between plans and even by location. However, when comparing plans, it’s important to consider more than just premiums. 

For example, while some plans may have a $0 premium, copays and deductibles for these plans can be much higher than in plans with more expensive premiums. Always compare all the costs of a plan and make sure that it meets your healthcare needs.

Medicare Advantage Plan Prescription Drug Coverage

While many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, drug formularies vary across plans. This means co-pays may differ and not all drugs will be covered by your plan. 

If your medication is not covered by your Medicare Part C policy, or the co-pay is too high, ScriptSave WellRx may be able to help you save. Our drug price comparison tool lets you check prices at multiple pharmacies in your area. You can also get a free prescription discount card to help you save at the pharmacy.

References:



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Update: As of April 21, 2020, the CDC says there have been 802,583 reported COVID-19 cases in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands, resulting in 44,575 deaths.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html

While the number of illnesses and deaths from influenza remains high, there is news that the fast-spreading Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is hitting the U.S. On January 21, 2020, the first U.S.-based case of the coronavirus was reported.

What is a coronavirus?

Google has reported an explosion of searches for “beer virus” and “corona beer virus.” Before you throw that six-pack out, the Coronavirus has nothing to do with beer.

Both influenza and coronavirus are contagious viral respiratory infections. Coronaviruses are widespread and include both severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), which have had worldwide impacts in past years. In addition to being passed from person-to-person, coronaviruses can also be contracted from infected animals.

What are symptoms of coronavirus?

Currently reported symptoms may appear between 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

How can I protect myself from the coronavirus?

There is not currently a vaccine to protect against the coronavirus. As with influenza, there are a number of precautions you can take to reduce your chances of getting sick from the coronavirus.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers whenever soap and water aren’t handy
  • Avoid close contact with anyone you think may be sick.
reduce your risk of getting coronavirus - image

What if I think I have coronavirus?

If you think you might be sick or coming down with an illness:

  • Stay home except to seek medical attention
  • If you have a face mask, wear it
  • Don’t share drinking glasses, dishes, cups, food, or towels with other people in your home
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue if you sneeze or cough, then throw away the tissue
  • Use sanitizers to frequently clean anything you touch
  • If you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead to tell them about any recent travel that may have taken you to areas impacted by the virus and your symptoms.

Taking these precautions can help lessen the chances that you’ll pass the illness on to someone else. If you’re not sick, it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine. While it won’t protect against the coronavirus, Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, states that it looks like a second wave of flu may be spreading across the U.S.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/1300-people-died-flu-year/story?id=67754182



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Going to the doctor’s office for your medication can be an inconvenience, especially if you just need a prescription for a minor illness or condition. You may be wondering if you can get a prescription without consulting with a doctor. The answer is no – you must see a doctor to get a prescription. However, that doesn’t always mean that you have to make a trip to the doctor’s office.

Obtaining a Prescription Through Telemedicine

You may have heard of an emerging field called telehealth, which uses technology to provide health services. Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth that refers specifically to an online consultation with a doctor, usually done over video chat on a phone or computer. The convenience of telemedicine appeals to many patients. These consultations may take just 10-15 minutes and can be conducted from the comfort of home.

With telemedicine, you can get a prescription without physically traveling to a doctor. You can talk to a physician and receive a diagnosis using technology. If you require medication for your condition, the doctor will send the prescription to the pharmacy of your choice. Then you can pick up the prescription or have it mailed to you. Telemedicine is a convenient way to fill prescriptions without making a trip to the doctor’s office every time.

Filling an Rx from Your Virtual Doctor?

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Things to Keep in Mind When Using Telemedicine

Although telemedicine can be a convenient option for many patients, there are some things to keep in mind before seeking these services.

Laws Governing Telehealth Vary by State

You may not be able to obtain a prescription via telemedicine in every state. Some have strict guidelines for establishing a patient-provider relationship that may require at least one in-person visit. The Center for Connected Health Policy has an online guide where you can check your own state’s laws. Or, you can ask your chosen telehealth platform.

Not All Medications Can be Prescribed via Telemedicine

A federal law known as the Ryan Haight Act regulates prescriptions of controlled substances. Under this law, doctors must see a patient in person before prescribing a controlled substance online, or the patient’s circumstances need to meet one of seven exceptions specified in the law. This makes it very difficult for a doctor to prescribe a controlled substance via online consultation. Some telemedicine platforms even prohibit their doctors from prescribing controlled substances.

Consider the State Where the Doctor Is Located

With telemedicine, you could be seeing a doctor located in a different state than you. It’s important to verify that your doctor is licensed to practice in your state. Telehealth platforms will usually ask you what state you’re located in, and then match you with a doctor able to practice there.

How Much Does a Telemedicine Visit Cost?

The cost for telemedicine services varies by platform, but a consultation is often just as affordable as an in-person visit, if not cheaper. Some platforms even accept insurance. If you’re uninsured, there are options available that will cost you as little as $15-$20 per visit.

Telemedicine is great for routine conditions such as sinus infections, bacterial infections, or allergies. It can also be used to monitor an ongoing or chronic condition. The field of telehealth is offering patients more convenience and, in many cases, more affordable treatment. Still, many patients are uninsured or underinsured and struggle with the cost of medications or doctor visits.

Whether you need a routine prescription or are managing a chronic condition, make sure you have savings in your pocket. Download the ScriptSave WellRx app today and compare pricing between pharmacies.

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Download the free ScriptSave WellRx app from the App Store Download the free ScriptSave WellRx app from the Google Play Store

References:

https://blog.evisit.com/how-to-get-a-prescription-without-seeing-a-doctor

https://www.cchpca.org/telehealth-policy/online-prescribing


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6 ways to lower your blood pressure - image

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is when the pressure in your blood vessels is higher than normal. Over time, high blood pressure begins to damage blood vessels and cause other health conditions.

Typically, there are no symptoms of high blood pressure until serious complications occur. For this reason, it’s often referred to as “the silent killer.” According to the CDC, around one third of U.S. adults have high blood pressure. However, only half of them actively take steps to manage it. If left unmanaged, hypertension can lead to heart disease, stroke, and even kidney disease.

Fortunately, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your blood pressure. In some cases, your doctor might recommend medication in addition to lifestyle changes. Below are six ways you can safely lower your blood pressure.

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1. Get Regular Physical Activity

Regular aerobic exercise, like walking, hiking, or cycling helps strengthen your heart. As your heart gets stronger, it pumps with less effort. This helps reduce the amount of pressure in your blood vessels, lowering your blood pressure.

Generally, you should aim for around 30 minutes of physical activity a day, or at least 150 minutes per week. Even if you’re unable to set aside 30 minutes, you can still benefit by breaking activity into 10 or 15 minute chunks throughout the day.

There also are many small ways you can increase your activity throughout the day:

  • Walking instead of driving.
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • Spending time outdoors, gardening, or doing yard work.
  • If you work in an office, taking time to get up, stretch, and move around.

Regardless of how you decide to do it, physical activity and exercise are among the best ways to improve your overall health.

2. Eat a Healthy Diet that’s Low in Sodium

Eating a heart-healthy diet can have a large impact on your blood pressure. For starters, cut processed foods from your diet. These foods are typically high in sodium, which raises your blood pressure.

Furthermore, cutting back on carbs and refined sugar can also help lower blood pressure. One study found that a low-carb diet was highly effective in lowering blood pressure, even when compared to low-fat diets.

Overall, high levels of sodium, or salt, in your diet can be one factor in elevated blood pressure. Lowering your salt intake can have benefits both for hypertension and your overall health. If you’re taking medication to treat your high blood pressure, your doctor may have additional dietary restrictions.

3. Manage Your Stress

When we’re stressed, our bodies react in a number of ways. One reaction is to release adrenaline and cortisol. Both are stress hormones that trigger the body’s fight or flight response, in turn increasing heart rate and constricting blood vessels.

Occasional stress is a normal response to everyday life. But when we experience stress on a regular basis, it begins to take its toll on our health. There are a number of ways to decrease stress, including yoga, mindfulness meditation, and improving your time management.

4. Cut Back on Caffeine

There is still debate around the long-term effects of caffeine. However, caffeine does briefly increase blood pressure. For people who are sensitive to caffeine, this effect is even greater.

In general, if you’re suffering from high blood pressure or are sensitive to caffeine, try to limit the amount of caffeine you consume. Instead, try decaf coffee or tea.

5. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

Losing weight can help significantly lower high blood pressure. A higher body weight places additional stress on blood vessels and increases the workload placed on the heart. Even losing as little as 5 or 10 pounds can begin improving blood pressure.

More importantly, the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight are even larger when coupled with regular exercise and a healthy diet. Most lifestyle changes work to reinforce each other. For this reason, your doctor will likely discuss making gradual changes that work together to improve not only your blood pressure, but also your overall health.

6. Take Your Blood Pressure Medication

Your doctor may prescribe one or more medications to help treat your hypertension. If you are prescribed medications, be sure to take them as directed by your doctor.

You may experience side effects and should report these or any changes in your condition to your doctor. They may want to change your dosage or try a different medication. Regardless, do not stop taking your medication without first talking with your doctor.

If you’re having difficulty affording your medications, there are a number of ways you can lower costs. If you’re prescribed a brand name drug, talk with your doctor to see if there is a generic alternative. In addition, the ScriptSave WellRx discount card can help you find savings on your blood pressure medication at thousands of pharmacies across the U.S.

References:


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You try to take your medication on time and manage your health condition, but mistakes happen. You may find yourself out of medication unexpectedly at some point. Whether you’re on vacation and forgot to pack your Rx or you just forgot to call your pharmacy and order the next month’s supply, you may be able to get an emergency supply of your prescription.

Obtaining an Emergency Supply of Your Medication

The best thing to do when you realize you’re going to run out of medication is call your doctor. They may be willing to contact the pharmacy of your choice so you can get a prescription filled there. Even if it’s after-hours, call anyway and leave a message explaining the situation.

If you cannot get in touch with your doctor or you are in immediate need of your medication, go to a nearby pharmacy and tell them you need an emergency supply. You may be required to provide proof of your Rx, so bring your prescription bottle with you. If the pharmacist determines that going without the drug will endanger your health or wellbeing, they are able to dispense an emergency 72-hour (three-day) supply.

Another option is to go to an urgent care clinic. A doctor there may write you a prescription for a one-time dose to hold you over until you can get in touch with your primary care physician.

Medications Eligible for Emergency Supply

Keep in mind that the pharmacist will only dispense an emergency supply if they determine that your health will be harmed by going without the medication. This is usually the case with medications for chronic illnesses and life-threatening conditions like high blood pressure or seizures.

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Laws about emergency prescription refills vary by state. Some states only allow emergency prescriptions to be dispensed during a state of emergency and/or natural disaster. Many states also have regulations about dispensing an emergency supply of Schedule II drugs and other substances with a high potential for abuse.

Getting an Emergency Prescription During a Natural Disaster

A natural disaster often leaves people without their normal supply of prescription drugs. Residents may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Their current supply of medication may be left behind or destroyed by flood waters or power outages.

Many states allow pharmacists to dispense up to a 30-day supply of medication in the case of a natural disaster or other emergency. If you’re still at home but your medication has been destroyed or has run out, contact your pharmacy for an emergency prescription. For evacuees, the best option may be to transfer prescriptions to another pharmacy until they can return home.

If you are unable to reach a pharmacy due to flooding or other bad road conditions, try to get medication mailed to you, or transfer to a pharmacy that offers mail-order services. You can always transfer back when the emergency passes.

Plan Ahead When Possible

Although many of these situations arise unexpectedly, try to plan ahead to make sure you don’t run out of medication. Make sure you create an emergency preparedness plan. If you know you’re going to need a refill while traveling, you may be able to order it in advance. Some health insurance plans allow for prescription overrides so that you can get a prescription filled early, or obtain more than a 30-day supply.

If your insurance doesn’t allow this, you may be able to get the extra medication you need by paying out of pocket. However, not all prescriptions are able to be filled early, especially for medications that have a high potential for abuse. Talk to your doctor about what you should do if you know you’re going to be traveling but cannot fill a prescription early.

Save on Emergency Prescriptions

You may have to pay for an emergency prescription out of pocket, especially if your Rx requires prior authorization with your insurance company. Make sure you always have savings in your pocket by downloading the ScriptSave WellRx app. You can search for pharmacies near you and compare prices instantly to get the best discount.

Organize your prescriptions with WellRx app

References:

employer prescription savings program - blog image

Healthy employees are imperative to a company’s success and are the best advocates for any employer. With prescription costs skyrocketing, we know it’s difficult to balance the need to provide healthcare coverage and still keep the cost affordable for both the business and your employees.

With an ever-increasing crunch on resources, providing full benefits to help employees stay healthy can be tough. The ScriptSave WellRx Prescription Savings Program makes prescription medications more affordable and easier to manage. Consumers show their savings card and pay the discounted price. It’s that simple!

Small Business Employer Benefit

At ScriptSave, the health of our community is important to us—that’s why we created the ScriptSave WellRx Prescription Savings Program. Our program helps individuals and families obtain discounts on prescription medications, and many times our prices are lower than insurance copays!

Prescription Savings for Employees

The ScriptSave WellRx Prescription Savings Program offers a fast, easy, and free way for employees to save on their family’s prescriptions.

  • Average savings of 60%, with potential savings of 80%* or more
  • Savings for all prescription medications — brand-name and generic
  • Accepted at more than 65,000 participating pharmacies nationwide
  • Save on prescription medications for the entire family, including pets
  • Compare our discount prices to your insurance copay
  • More Features: pill & refill reminders, Ask-A-Pharmacist, set preferred pharmacies, watch & learn videos, pill identifier, manage medication list, receive drug and lifestyle interaction alerts, and more!
Request prescription discount cards for employees - ScriptSave WellRx

ScriptSave WellRx can help anyone save. There are no enrollment fees and no limits on usage, so it’s good as long as employees need prescription discounts.

Who Can Benefit from ScriptSave WellRx?

  • Those with limited insurance or no prescription coverage can reduce out-of-pocket expenses
  • Those with health insurance, medicare, or high-deductible health plans can reduce the cost of medications not covered by insurance, and many times ScriptSave WellRx prices are lower than insurance copays!
  • Even employees with pets can reduce out-of-pocket costs on human-equivalent pet medications.

Learn more about how the ScriptSave WellRx prescription savings program can work for your business. Contact us today or simply request a package of cards so your employees can start saving on their prescription costs today!



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manufacturer drug coupons

For anyone who has read the ScriptSave WellRx Facebook comment-threads, you’ll know the topic of manufacturer drug coupons (and the Q&A that relates to them) is a popular one. So popular, in fact, we felt it deserved its own article on what drug coupons are and how they work.

What are Manufacturer Drug Coupons?

These coupons often go by a number of different names. Sometimes referred to as copay cards or copay coupons, also commonly called Copay Assistance Programs or just pharma coupons, the end result is often the same. A program, funded by the pharmaceutical manufacturer of a prescription drug, which helps to lower the out-of-pocket cost that the patient pays at the pharmacy.

Because these programs are funded directly by the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the drug, they are usually able to provide the patient with an extremely low cost. Some programs can even drop a patient’s out-of-pocket expense to zero dollars (i.e., FREE prescription medication to the patient).

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How do Copay Assistance Programs work (and are the really FREE)?

So what’s the catch behind the copay card (…and, yes, there is a catch)? To answer this question, let’s look at why these programs were created by pharma manufacturers in the first place.

Just because the patient might end up paying zero dollars, it certainly doesn’t mean the drug manufacturer gave their product away and didn’t make any money. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

The clue is really in the name, “Copay Assistance” or “Copay Coupon” – i.e. these programs are designed to help lower a patient’s insurance copay. More about that to follow, a little further down the page.

It’s important to keep in mind that the pharmaceutical manufacturer collects payment for their drug not just from the patient, but also from the patient’s insurance plan. Furthermore, with traditional health plans, the lion’s share of the payment for the drug would generally be coming from the insurance company rather than from the patient. For example, consider a brand drug that might sell for $1,000 and its generic equivalent that’s available for $100. If the patient’s health plan has a flat copay of $20, then the patient would likely opt for the brand. After all, their personal expense would be the same twenty dollars out-of-pocket cost, regardless of which version of the drug they choose … so why not go for the brand-version. In such an example, the patient would pay $20 in the form of their copay, while the brand drug company would collect the remaining $980 from the insurance company.

With this in mind, let’s consider what might happen if patient’s health insurance plan changes its copay structure for the next plan year. If the patient finds themselves having to pay 20 percent of the cost of their medications (a practice commonly referred to as co-insurance), rather than the flat copay of $20, they would then face an out-of-pocket cost of $200 for the same brand drug (i.e. 20% of $1,000) or only $20 for the generic – same as their previous year’s copay (i.e. 20% of $100).

Under these circumstances, the patient’s choice between brand vs. generic has a direct and significant impact on their own out-of-pocket cost, and the potential impact to the brand manufacturer is most certainly a cause for concern. Not only do they lose the patient’s share of the payment for the medication, they also lose the majority share that would have been paid by the insurance provider. And so comes the case for the copay card, copay assistance program or manufacturer drug coupon.

What if the manufacturer pays, reimburses, or assists with the patient’s cost?

Keeping the math the same as the example above, what if the manufacturer creates a program that offers to kick-in $200 against the patient’s copay? The answer is simple. If the patient faces 20% of the cost of a $1000 brand drug vs. 20% of a $100 generic … but then the manufacturer of the brand offers to subsidize $200 back to the patient if the patient picks their drug, then the patient is left facing a choice between a zero-dollar burden for choosing the brand or a $20 burden for the generic.

Obviously, the patient will now tend to choose the brand. However, although the patient is able to use the coupon to escape paying anything whatsoever for the drug, the drug company is now able to collect $800 from the insurance plan, because the pharmacist dispensed the brand as opposed to the generic (thereby triggering a bill to the patient’s insurance for the brand). In other words, by giving a $200 discount or subsidy to the patient, the pharma manufacturer manages to collect $800 from the insurer, rather than collecting nothing if the patient had opted for the generic.

Pharma coupons – only for the insured

At this point, anyone still reading has probably already had their ‘a-ha moment’ in realizing why these programs (that can be so wonderfully generous to patients across the U.S.) are often only available to patients with insurance. Long story short, without the insurance company in the equation to continue footing their full share of the bill, these programs wouldn’t make any money at all for the pharma manufacturer.

To many folks this seems unfair. However, it doesn’t change the fact that, every single day, manufacturer coupons make a HUGE difference to many patients who can’t afford their medications.

For those without access to these programs, the ScriptSave WellRx prescription discount card might be able to help (although, clearly, we’re never going to be able to help as much as the manufacturers’ own programs – for those who qualify).

If you’re struggling to afford your prescription medications, check out the ScriptSave WellRx website or app to see how much you could be saving on the cost of your medications! Furthermore, if you’re still unsure why the WellRx card from ScriptSave is different to the copay assistance cards from the manufacturers, and how our discount program works, there’s a brief write-up to explain that here. You may also want to read our related article, “What Are Patient Assistance Programs?



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