Origin of the Prescription Discount Card?

Continuing Series: Questions from Consumers …

WH PDCThe prescription discount card has been around for more than 20 years, and has grown in popularity since the economy sharply declined in 2005.  It offers consumers a convenient way to save on their out-of-pocket prescription costs.  The card is free, easy-to-use and involves none of the hassles typically associated with insurance. 

The card is offered as the result of a partnership between a Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) and a direct-to-consumer marketing company (like Watertree Health). A PBM is a third-party administrator of prescription programs for health insurance providers including those for employers and the government (e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, etc.). They negotiate lower prices at pharmacies and with pharmaceutical companies (rebates), process prescription claims (including those for a prescription discount card) and other functions relating to the management of prescription programs.

The prescription discount card started because PBMs saw an opportunity to extend the prescription discounts, which they had negotiated for their health insurance clients at pharmacies, to consumers who had high prescription expenses.  PBMs pay their partners a fee for increasing their cardholder base and usage of the cards. That’s why the card is free to consumers.

There are several recent facts that point to the increasing need for a prescription discount card. According to a recent poll by the Kaiser Foundation, due to cost, 24% of respondents said they did not fill a prescription, and 16% said they skipped doses or split pills. And, although health cost increases leveled off in 2012, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, prescription drug prices rose 3.6%, twice the rate of inflation. In addition, co-pays have been increasing. In 2012, generic and brand name co-pays increased between 10% and 13% and there is no end in sight.  These days they could be $20/$25 or higher and, if youKaiser data take monthly medications, this adds up quickly.

Further, with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), minimum standards for coverage, or “Essential Health Benefits,” have been set and a result has been that lists of medicines covered on health insurance plans have gotten smaller. 

In addition, many plans, including those provided by employers and most of those purchased on the ACA exchange, have a high deductible that must be met before prescriptions are even covered.

It’s not just the indigent who could benefit from a prescription discount card.  It’s anyone who needs to lower their out-of-pocket prescription costs. For many people, these costs are their highest health care expenses. With the Watertree Health prescription discount card, the discounted price is probably lower than the co-pay, no prescription is excluded from possible savings and/or you can use it right away—no qualifications.

Bottomline, a prescription discount card is an important part of the health care solution.

If you are on a medication and you need help affording the prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone. 

By WHBlogger 
10/29/2014 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

Why are Pharmacists So Important?

Continuing Series: Questions from Consumers …

Pharmacist helps man, watertree, Prescription

Source: Wikimedia Commons

These days, you might be able to buy less expensive prescriptions online and via a mail order program. However, at what cost?

Pharmacists play a very important role in your health care.  They watch out to make sure you don’t have a negative interaction between any medications you may be taking, by prescription or over-the-counter. Pharmacists are also there to immediately answer any questions you may have about your medications like side effects, and it’s face-to-face not via the phone, email or online FAQ database. They can also advise you on any health care topic, recommend over-the-counter health care products, encourage wellness strategies and show in many other ways that they want to be your partner in health.  

Importantly, pharmacists help their patients (this is how they refer to their customers) take their medications as prescribed. They help them understand when and how much they should be taking of their prescriptions. And, sometimes, they’ll work with their patients to reduce the cost of their medications so they can afford them by, for example, using discount codes or pharmaceutical coupons. According to a recent poll by the Kaiser Foundation, due to cost, 24% of respondents said they did not fill a prescription and 16% said they skipped doses or split pills. Pharmacists know, when patients comply with their prescribed drug plans, they get better and stay well. 

Medication compliance positively impacts the pharmacists’ communities because healthier people miss less work and school, and spend more on goods and services. When this occurs in greater numbers, it not only helps improve the economy, it also results in lessening the burden on our health care system.

No question — pharmacists are a big part of our nation’s health care solution.

If you are on a medication and you need help affording the prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone. 

By WHBlogger 
10/22/2014 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

Outsmarting Your Fall Allergies

Of course, we all hate to see weeds mucking up our gardens and lawns. But, during the fall season, a specific family of weeds does much more than simply invade our green space—it invades our bodies and causes an extremely unpleasant cascade of allergy symptoms.

ragweedThe trouble with ragweed
This troublesome plant is called ragweed. There are 41 different species of the weed and it grows most abundantly in Eastern and Midwestern states.

The problem with ragweed is that it produces a vast amount of allergy-inducing pollen during the fall months. That pollen is picked up in the air and can be carried for more than 400 miles. So, even though you live on the West Coast, you are breathing in plenty of airborne ragweed pollen. 

Experts commonly define the height of the ragweed season as August, September, and October. However, if you feel like you’ve been experiencing worsening allergic symptoms beyond these three months, you’re not alone. Some studies report that the ragweed season is gradually getting longer and more severe. So far, scientists blame this on rising temperatures and increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Getting the upper hand
More than 70 million Americans have seasonal allergies and nearly all of these individuals have symptoms that are triggered by ragweed, the most common being sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. Ragweed can also bring about more serious symptoms like conjunctivitis (pink eye), asthma attacks, or worsening eczema.

In years past, the most popular way to treat ragweed-induced allergies was to take a traditional antihistamine and go to bed. Nobody could withstand the drowsiness caused by that line of treatment! Thankfully, there are other options in today’s pharmaceutical marketplace.

  • Claritin and Zyrtec are over-the-counter antihistamines that are less likely to cause drowsiness.
  • Steroid nose sprays work very well and cause very few side effects.
  • Quercetin and Stinging Nettle are herbs with natural antihistamine properties.
  • In April 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a medication specifically for ragweed allergies—Ragwitek.  In studies, it reduced allergy symptoms by 26-percent.

These medications will work best if you combine the drug therapy with other lifestyle modifications, some of which are noted below.

  • Pollen settles into your skin and hair throughout the day. Be sure to shower before going to bed.neti pot 2
  • Use a Neti pot or saline solution to flush pollen from your nasal passages.
  • Keep your windows closed and continue to run your air conditioner, even if the weather seems nice in early fall.
  • Change the air filter in your furnace and be sure to regularly clean the vents.
  • If possible, clean your floors and vacuum with a HEPA filter on a regular basis.

The cooler weather and changing leaves make fall a beautiful time of year. Don’t let ragweed ruin it! Take a week and try the remedies we suggested in this blog. Through the process of trial-and-error, you should be able to find relief quickly. If not, be sure to contact your doctor and ask about stronger antihistamines or allergy shots. 

If you are on a medication for your allergies and you need help affording the prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone. 

By WHBlogger 
10/20/2014 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

Have Insurance: Can I Lower my Prescription Costs?

Continuing Series: Questions from Consumers …

Health insurance is a lifesaver for many families. Even so, having insurance coverage doesn’t guarantee that your medical costs will be affordable—especially when it comes to prescription medications, which are usually your #1 health care expense. 

Your prescription costs may be high because your plan requires a high deductible be met before you get coverage. Or, your co-pay may be $20/$25 and, if you’re taking a lot of medications monthly, that adds up quickly. Another reason we commonly hear is that your medications are not even covered by your insurance plan. 

And, there’s the common misperception that you can’t do anything to lower your medication costs, if you have health insurance. That’s simply not true. 

At Watertree Health, we are happy to offer the benefits of our prescription discount card to everybody—people without and with health insurance. And, you can use our card to save on your prescriptions right away — there are no qualifications.

The fact is our card complements insurance plans given many policies don’t cover every medication.   All prescriptions – brand name and generic — are eligible for savings with our card. 

Also, a lot of times the discounted price with our card is lower than your co-pay. We have found this to be true for most of the top 10 prescribed medications.  For example, Lisinopril, which is prescribed for blood pressure, is usually under $6 with our card.  And, the average discounted price for Metformin, which is prescribed for diabetes, is less than $6.50.  So even if you have a comprehensive insurance plan, you can benefit from our card. 

In addition to our prescription discount card, here are some things you may want to consider doing to help make your medicine more affordable:

1. Take a closer look at your health insurance plan
Do you have options when it comes to your health insurance plan? If so, you may want to consider a higher premium plan that has more prescriptions covered and/or lower co-pays, if you find your out-of-pocket costs on prescriptions are high each month. You may end up paying less money for your medicine on an annual basis. Contact your health plan or your company’s HR department for help with your evaluation.

2. Talk to your doctor about less expensive options
Find out if there is a cheaper, generic version of your medication. You can also save by getting your doctor to write a 90-day prescription—this should be an option if you’re on a monthly medication.  Or, if you’re only taking a medication for a short time, see if they can give you free samples. Many times, doctors have coupons for medications; just ask. It’s also a good idea to review your list of medications with your doctor, to make sure you’re only taking what you need.

NABP VIPPS seal3. Shop online
Medicine is often cheaper online. However, we would caution you to go to www.fda.gov/besaferx to check and see if an online store is legitimate.  Also, look for the NABP VIPPS seal – it should be prominently displayed on the website. A downside to buying online is that you can’t talk to the pharmacist about side effects, drug-drug interactions, etc.  

Another option is to google your drug’s name plus “discounts” to see if any online coupons, discounts and rebate offers are available.

4. Reduce your need for prescriptions
Some conditions can be improved by lifestyle changes. Could changes in your diet or exercise habits reduce your need for medications? Would vitamins or non-prescription supplements improve your condition? But always remember, never stop taking your current medications without speaking to your doctor first.

The tips that we’ve listed in this blog could add up to substantial cost savings. But, if you are still unable to afford your prescriptions, please visit Partnership for Prescription Assistance. This organization may be helpful in matching you with programs that partially or fully cover the cost of your medications. 

Don’t let the cost of a prescription be the reason you don’t have it filled or take it properly (i.e., ration the pills, etc.).  Taking your medicine as prescribed improves your overall health and wellbeing.

For more tips on how to lower your prescription costs and to download a pamphlet that includes them all, go to WatertreeHealthCard.com/prescriptionsavingstips

If you are on a medication and you need help affording the prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone. 

By WHBlogger 
10/15/2014 
Updated: 10/24/18

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

Latest Developments in Breast Cancer Research

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a nationwide rallying cry dedicated to encouraging patients, strengthening survivors, andpink ribbon 2 advancing medical treatments. The disease has touched countless lives, including many of us here at Watertree Health. Breast cancer claims more than 40,000 lives each year, but just as important, there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors living the journey of survival.

One of the main goals of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to raise funds for treatment research, and that research is continuously pushing forward at a rapid pace. In recent years, new technology has made major strides in the battle against breast cancer. Here are some of the latest and most successful scientific developments that are taking place right now.

Many Breast Cancer Patients Can Skip Chemotherapy
In recent years cancer treatment has been moving away from chemotherapy and towards more mild treatments with fewer side-effects, such as: gene-targeting therapies, hormone blockers and immune system treatments. In 2018, the largest study ever conducted regarding breast cancer treatment found that most women diagnosed with the most common form of early-stage breast cancer can safely avoid pursuing chemotherapy treatment without compromising their chances of overcoming the disease. The study, funded by The National Cancer Institute, used gene testing on 10,273 patients to look at the role of genes in cell growth and response to hormone therapy, in order to determine the chances of the cancer reoccurring. After 9 years of conducting the study it was found that adding chemotherapy to a treatment plan did not have any major effect on the survival chances of the patients. The results of this study will benefit up to 70,000 patients each year in the United States by sparing them the difficulty and risks associated with chemotherapy treatment that may or may not help them.

A New Method to Detect Early Breast Cancer
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center have developed a new way to conduct breast cancer screening using commercially available technology to test breath and urine. Using an inexpensive tool called an electronic nose researchers are able to pinpoint specific breathing patterns in women with breast cancer with more than 95 percent accuracy. By discovering a new way to measure substances found in urine samples of both patients with breast cancer and healthy patients researchers were able to yield an 85 percent average accuracy in diagnosis. Mammograms, which are currently used to test for breast cancer and are proven to decrease breast cancer mortality, cannot always detect smaller tumors in dense breast tissue. Mammography generally results in 75 to 85 percent accuracy, but in dense tissue that number drops to 30 to 50 percent accuracy. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed illness among females and the leading cause of death in women around the world. This study has provided an inexpensive method for categorizing early stage cancer patients and the researchers hope to find ways to use these tools to identify other types of cancer in the future.

A New Natural Treatment: Vitamin D
Vitamin D isn’t a fancy new drug, but the outcomes of this therapy have been just as effective as some advanced drug therapies. Several studies and scientific analyses in recent years have focused on the relationship between vitamin D and breast cancer. Here are some highlights:

  • The average vitamin D concentration of breast cancer patients in the United States is 17 ng/ml.
  • High levels of vitamin D are extremely important in preventing and fighting breast cancer because the vitamin works to block aggressive cell division—a key hallmark of cancer.
  • Breast cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D (above 30 ng/ml) are twice as likely to survive the cancer as women with low levels of the vitamin (below 17 ng/ml).
  • Vitamin D levels of 50 ng/ml have been linked to a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer.
  • Women with early-stage breast cancer and low levels of vitamin D are more likely to see their cancer spread throughout the body and ultimately die from the disease than women with high levels of the vitamin.

Even though researchers agree that vitamin D looks promising for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer, there is no standard dosage. Some doctors recommend that women who have been diagnosed take 4,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day, while other medical professionals recommend doses as high as 40,000 IU per day. In addition, some researchers look for blood levels as high as 50 ng/ml, while others aim for levels higher than 80 ng/ml.

Most of the treatments or methods mentioned in this blog are not available yet or are only available to women with very specific cases of breast cancer. If you’d like to know more about treatment advances for your type of breast cancer, we encourage you to visit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation or Susan G. Komen.

If you are on a medication for breast cancer and you need help affording the prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone. 

By WHBlogger 
10/10/2014
Updated 10/4/2018

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

Breast Cancer Awareness All Year Long

By: Shane Power, President of Watertree Health

Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon - WTH

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a woman is newly diagnosedpink ribbon every 2 minutes.  While companies, organizations and individuals “go pink” for the month and display the symbolic pink ribbon, it’s important to remember that, in addition to raising awareness, “going pink” has also raised funds for innovative research and treatment.

Like so many Americans I have been personally impacted by breast cancer. My aunt is a breast cancer survivor who underwent several rounds of treatment. I have seen firsthand the toll that the disease has on both the patient and her family. I have also witnessed how effective the current treatment options can be. Drugs like Tamoxifen have made it possible for women, like my aunt, to thrive and recover in the face of such a devastating diagnosis. Other medications, in addition to chemotherapy and early testing, have greatly improved survival rates. More than ever breast cancer is highly treatable, especially if caught in its early stages. 90 percent of women diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer survive at least five years after diagnosis.

In addition to raising awareness during the month of October, it is important to consider those who are bravely fighting breast cancer all year.

For more information on breast cancer treatments, please visit:

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/

http://www.bcrfcure.org/

http://www.komen.org

New Recommendation for Children’s Flu Vaccine

The 2014-15 flu season has begun and pediatricians across the country are prepared to engage in battle. Estimates suggest that nearly 160 million people willFlumist receive the influenza vaccine and, surprisingly, many of those vaccinations won’t come from a needle. For the first time ever, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending that certain children receive the flu vaccination in the form of a nasal spray.

A different kind of vaccine
The nasal spray flu vaccine (brand name: FluMist, generic term: live attenuated influenza vaccine [LAIV]) has been available in the United States since 2003. However, recent studies have prompted its renewed popularity. The research results show that the nasal spray method can prevent up to 50% more influenza cases than the traditional injectable vaccination in children between the ages of 2 and 8 years old.

The nasal spray flu vaccine is a quadrivalent vaccine, which means that it protects your child against four strains of influenza. The spray does contain a live version of influenza, but it has been substantially weakened and medical experts promise that the vaccine will not give your child the flu.

Recommendations from the CDC
The CDC specifically recommends that healthy children between the ages of 2 and 8 receive the nasal vaccine. However, if your doctor’s office does not have the FluMist vaccine or it is not immediately available, don’t wait to vaccinate your child. In that case, the CDC urges you to get your child the injectable vaccine as soon as possible.

There are a few reasons to avoid the nasal spray vaccine. If any of the following conditions apply to your child, be sure to discuss your specific vaccine options with your pediatrician.

  • Weakened immune system
  • Egg allergy
  • Asthma or other breathing problems
  • Taking aspirin

Flu shotIn addition, many doctors say that children under the age of 8 should get two doses of the flu vaccine in order to maximize disease protection. You’ll have to wait at least 28 days between doses, but the two vaccines can be any combination of the injectable or nasal spray vaccinations.

Other guidelines
If you have children that aren’t between the ages of 2 and 8, the CDC guidelines are the same as they have been in previous years. They recommend injectable flu shots for children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years old. Children who are older than age 9 are equally protected by the injectable vaccine and the nasal spray vaccine. 

October marks the beginning of flu season, so now is the time to get your child vaccinated. If they are between the ages of 2 and 8, call your pediatrician’s office or your local health department to see if they carry the FluMist vaccine. Let’s make sure our children are protected this season. 

If you are on a medication and you need help affording the prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone. 

By WHBlogger 
10/07/2014 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.