Medicare 2011 Part D – Reducing Drug Costs

by Mary Jane Stern

The 2011 Medicare plan data is now available at  Even if you don’t want to change your plan(s), take a few minutes and review what changes your plan may have for 2011.  This might be your Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) or Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Plan - PDP).

This year we need to enroll in a new Part D Prescription Drug Plan.  I have been using Medicare’s new website and found the searches to be very helpful in terms of overall drug costs and which plan’s formulary have our prescription drugs.

But it still comes down to cost and although there is some relief with Part D, depending upon your condition, prescription drugs can be very, very expensive.  Although Medicare stated that there was a minimum jump in premiums for 2011, I didn’t find that to be the case in my area.  What I did find:

  • Premiums increased
  • Providers declined
  • Less plans offer $0 deductible
  • Increased cost sharing

One Way to Save – Spit the Pills

There are many insurance companies that have actually advocated pill splitting.  Some of your prescriptions come with a “score” and they are easy to cut or split.  There are others that have a hard coating and don’t split correctly.

But wouldn’t it be great to split those pills and stay out of the “donut hole,” which doesn’t close until 2021?

I want to share with you a site I stumbled across that has a different type of pill cutter that is unlike the “standard” pill cutter with a razor blade.  It’s a Swiss Pill Cutter machined from quality steel with blades that never dull and Made in the USA.  Here’s the website:

Here’s the concept of the cutter:

If the pill or tablet is hard, the razor blade has a difficult time cutting through it. In addition, the blades dull rapidly and need to be replaced because a dull razor blade tends to crush and crumble the pill.

The Swiss Pill Cutter is machined from tool quality steel and the "blades" never dull. The blades on the top and bottom never actually cut through the pill; they just cut through the hard outer coating and the pill then splits evenly. This method could be compared to cutting wallboard. You cut through the outer sheath and then the wallboard breaks evenly down the line of the cut.

Always check with your physician to make sure the medication prescribed can be safely taken if you split the pill.  But if you can, consider the savings.  For us, splitting a few pills will keep us out of the donut hole in 2011.

Here’s an article from Consumer Reports on 10 Ways to Reduce Drug Costs.

Do you have any other ways to save on prescription drugs that you want to share with us?

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