Most physicians will agree that antibiotics, also known as antimicrobial drugs, can be effective in treating illnesses resulting from disease-causing-bacteria, including strep throat, severe sinus infections, and urinary tract infections. While the unnecessary and improper use of antibiotics in treating viruses has caused a great deal of concern within the medical community, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees that “antibiotics save lives, and when a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance.” Antibiotics can kill harmful bacteria or keep it from growing. If your physician determines you have a bacterial infection that requires antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed and report any side effects, including dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, or yeast infections, immediately.
How Your Medicare Plan Can Help
If you are eligible for Medicare due to age or disability, you will have coverage options that may affect how much you pay for prescription drugs, including antibiotics. Medicare recipients have the option of getting their benefits through Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage.
Original Medicare includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) and is administered by the federal government. Most people receive premium-free Part A because they have paid taxes for a certain period of time while working. Part B will generally have a monthly premium and annual deductible if you choose to enroll. Even though Original Medicare covers the costs of many services and supplies, some people choose to purchase supplemental insurance (Medigap) to help pay some of the out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles, coinsurance, or copayments. Unfortunately, Part A, Part B, and Medigap do NOT include prescription drug coverage.
If you have Original Medicare, you may enroll in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP). Prescription Drug Plans are sold by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. You will pay a monthly premium, annual deductible, and copayments or coinsurance. If you do not enroll in a PDP when you are first eligible for Medicare and decide to enroll at a later date, you may incur a late enrollment penalty. Each PDP offered in your area may have different costs and covered drugs. Review and compare each plan’s formulary, or list of covered drugs, and pricing tiers before you enroll.
Medicare Advantage (Part C) allows you to receive your Part A and Part B benefits through a private insurance company that contracts with Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide at least the same benefits as Original Medicare, but many offer additional coverage, including dental, vision, and prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage (MA-PDs) may have different formularies and costs and may include a specific network of pharmacies you need to visit in order to be covered.
While most prescription drug coverage will help pay for the cost of antibiotics, every plan may have a different “tier” of pricing based on generic, brand-name, or mail order prescriptions. If you meet certain income and resource limits, you may qualify for Extra Help from Medicare paying for prescription drugs.