In late 2012, a long-time patient of Steve Cohen, M.D., tearfully told him she was moving away. “She could no longer afford food, mortgage and medicines, so she was going to live with relatives out of state and allow the bank to foreclose on her home,” Dr. Cohen of WellStar Cobb Medical Group, explained. “She felt she could do without her house, but not without her medicine.”
For Dr. Cohen, this was a pivotal moment. As an internist, he sees many patients who have difficulty affording their prescriptions. He immediately decided to do what he could to help his patients and anyone struggling with prescription drug costs: he launched a free, nonprofit website, www.medicaredrugsavings.org.
Completely funded by Dr. Cohen, the web site helps people choose the right Medicare D or Advantage Plan for them. The site has been reviewed by Clark Howard (Save Money on Medicare Prescriptions) and is now getting more than 1,000 hits each month. Georgia chapters of the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians (the two main groups for primary care doctors) plan to actively promote the site.
The internist believes if people spend less than an hour on the site, they or their loved ones can save hundreds to thousands of dollars a year on prescriptions. According to a 2012 study, only five percent of people choose the least expensive plan and the average person on Medicare D would save $368 a year. “Extrapolating this to the U.S. Medicare population of 46 million would yield an annual savings of $16.9 billion,” said Dr. Cohen.
There is a four-minute video for health professionals explaining how the site can help patients. The site also allows physicians to download a customizable, easy-to-understand handout for patients and shows how businesses can do the same. A similar five-minute video and handout show how businesses can help customers and employees with older family members on Medicare.