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Stockton Pharmacy Students Help Seniors Understand Medicare's Part D

Images Money / Flickr

Images Money / Flickr

University of the Pacific pharmacy students are reaching out to seniors with Medicare in Northern California to help them understand and determine what medications to take along with the costs in Part D of the program.

Almost 100 pharmacy students and more than 30 licensed pharmacists will assist attendees at this health fair in Stockton.

George Sampson was one of the many who attended looking for help.

“There’s not a lot of information out there,” Sampson says. “I mean you have a lot of questions and you don’t really have an entity to go to.”

Dr. Raj Patel, head of the program, says that Medicare’s Part D has 30 different plans and all with different costs.

“The analogy I make with Medicare’s Part D is that’s like an onion, the more layers you peel, the more you want to cry,” Patel says.

In some cases, generic drugs can replace costlier prescriptions and duplicate drugs can be avoided.

The average person coming in for help is 75 years old who takes five prescription medicines and two over the counter.

“The first year, it saved me about $500 a year because if I went to the computer, I’d be scared to death to press a button,” says attendee Christy Reinold.

Dr. Patel says in nine years, the program has helped almost 5,000 people who saved more than $4 million in drug costs.

“We found that about eight out of 10 Medicare beneficiaries that we assist can save about $85 per month per person per year,” Patel says.

For student Samuel Agbonkpolo, helping people is about more than just a passing grade.

“There’s a rewarding feeling to knowing that I’m doing good in school but it’s different to know I’m making someone’s life better and people are benefitting from it,” Agbonkpolo says. 

The Medicare Health Fairs are travelling to nine cities in Northern California during this open enrollment period through October and November.

Attendees are recommended to make an appointment for faster service and bring all their medication with them to the fairs.

Rich Ibarra

Contributing Central Valley/Foothills Reporter

As the Central Valley correspondent, Rich Ibarra covers San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties, along with the foothill areas including Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. He covers politics, the economy and issues affecting the region.   Read Full Bio