CVS/pharmacy Helping Seniors Understand Medicare Part D

CVS pharmacists, in-store displays and a CVS.com Medicare site are among the resources available to help seniors make decisions about the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit

WOONSOCKET, R.I., Nov. 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- With enrollment for the new Medicare prescription drug coverage benefit underway, CVS/pharmacy has successfully launched a comprehensive initiative to better inform and educate seniors about the Medicare Part D program.

Spearheading this initiative are the company's 15,000 pharmacists, who have all undergone training to help them explain the new Medicare prescription drug benefit to their patients.

Pharmacists are the most accessible members of the health care delivery system. According to a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, 55% of all seniors expect that their pharmacists are likely to spend time to help them choose a Medicare Part D plan, and 75% say that they expect their pharmacists to be knowledgeable about their prescription drug plan choices.

Throughout the month of November, CVS/pharmacy has hosted "Medicare Tuesdays" in all 5,400 of its locations, during which pharmacy staff are available to guide seniors through the process of reviewing information and resources available at CVS/pharmacy regarding Medicare Part D. Between 80,000 and 100,000 customers per week have participated in these Medicare events and spoken with CVS pharmacists about choosing a Medicare Part D plan that works best for them. Due to this overwhelming response, CVS/pharmacy will offer Medicare Tuesdays again in January 2006.

CVS/pharmacy recently conducted its own public opinion survey of Americans age 65 and older, and half of the seniors surveyed said they feel they do not have a good understanding of the new prescription drug benefit. The full survey is available upon request.

To further assist seniors, Medicare Information Centers are available in all 5,400 CVS/pharmacy stores, which offer guides to explain how Medicare drug plans will work and to assist individuals select a plan that best meets their needs. The Centers also have materials from a number of managed care and insurance companies that are offering Medicare 2006 prescription drug plans.

CVS/pharmacy, in partnership with Studiocom, a WPP company, has also launched the CVS.com Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Information Center, an online resource that can be accessed at http://www.cvs.com/medicare. This web site explains the Medicare Part D using helpful imagery, text and audio. The online information center features closed captioning and video to allow equal access for people living with cognitive, visual, audio or motor limitations.

"According to our survey, 80% of seniors said the list of participating pharmacies in their area is important in deciding whether to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan. With that in mind, we want to assure our patients that CVS/pharmacy is ready to help them better understand their choices under the benefit," said Jim Maritan, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at CVS/pharmacy. "While Medicare regulations preclude pharmacists from recommending a specific benefit plan, our pharmacists are thoroughly trained to help seniors work their way through the large number of choices available to them."