Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

HIGHLIGHTS

Close
America's Winter Escapes Sweepstakes
Introducing RealPad by AARP
You and Your Town Contest-You could win an AARP RealPad

AUTO BUYING PROGRAM

AARP Auto Buying Program

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

LEARNING centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.


Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

share your Thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

Illinois

Loss of Drug Program Spells Hardships

Will end of Illinois Cares Rx save money or cost the state more?

Drugs A – Z
Find information on drug indications, side effects and more.

The end of Illinois Cares Rx could fail to save the state any money, said David Vinkler, AARP Illinois associate director. That would happen if older people who have lost access to their medications are forced to get medical care in hospital emergency rooms or in nursing homes. That cost would be much greater than the cost of subsidizing prescriptions and would be paid by taxpayers through Medicaid.

Easy targets

"Unfortunately, people receiving help with prescription expenses make easy targets," Vinkler said. "But does cutting those programs really save money? At this point, we don't think so."

Tina Saenz, an advocate at Solutions for Care, which helps older people obtain health care, housekeeping, legal services, home-delivered meals and other services in Chicago's western suburbs, helped one couple in their 70s apply for Illinois Cares Rx to pay for transplant follow-up medications, cancer treatment drugs, anticoagulants and other medications.

"The wife called recently and asked me to put her in touch with food pantries because they can't afford groceries any more," Saenz said. Their plight will only worsen as their prescription copays rise.

"There was no planning for a transition. Last year they cut [Illinois Cares Rx] in half on Sept. 1, but they gave us July and August to prepare," said John Coburn, senior policy attorney at Health & Disability Advocates of Chicago. Social service agencies thus had time to match beneficiaries to other programs, like Medicare Extra Help.

"This year there wasn't a lot of discussion," Coburn said. "They just got rid of it."

If you need help paying for prescription drugs, here is what you can do:

Medicare Extra Help — If you meet certain income and resource limits, you may qualify for Extra Help from Medicare to pay the costs of Medicare prescription drug coverage.

Change Medicare Part D plan — You may find a plan that has lower premium costs or pays more for the specific drugs you need.

Prescription discount cards — Some pharmaceutical companies provide discounts for needy drug users. Contact your drug company to see whether you qualify.

Joseph Sjostrom is a freelance writer living in Oak Park, Ill.

You may also like: Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Video Extra

Dr. Armon Neel, AARP's 'Ask the Pharmacist' columnist, explains why the medications you take may be causing more harm than good. Watch

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Reading eyeglasses eyemed 6 membership benefit health

Members save 25% on orders of $200 or more and get 25% off lens upgrades at glasses.com.

AARP/Walgreens Wellness Bus Stops in Clarksdale, MS

Members can get exclusive points offers from Walgreens and Duane Reade.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points