Students help seniors save thousands on drugs - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Students help seniors save thousands on drugs

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MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News & ULM) - During the 2013 Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment Period, students and faculty from the University of Louisiana at Monroe College of Pharmacy helped 71 local seniors save $91,930.27 in Medicare prescription costs.

This year's savings nearly tripled those from last year, in which 47 beneficiaries saved a total of $32,294.

Dr. Michelle Zagar, ULM clinical associate professor and a certified geriatric pharmacist, has been assisting Medicare beneficiaries with plan selection and enrollment at the Ouachita Council on Aging since the Medicare Part D program began in 2006. This is the second year she has provided her expertise with the assistance of her students.

"Medicare Part D counseling is always a very humbling experience, but it was especially so this year," said Zagar. "We saw so many looks of extreme gratitude and physical expressions of emotion from seniors who will not have to choose between taking their medications and buying food or paying utility bills next year.  For the individuals with the greatest savings of $8,000 and $10,000, there was the realization of how important it is to re-evaluate drug plan needs each year because they could end up paying much more than necessary for their medications."

Zagar was assisted by two ULM fourth-year professional pharmacy students, Bryan Bordelon of Eunice, and Tara Bostick of West Monroe.

"I can confirm from the student perspective that this experience brought to life the personal side of pharmacy that we can only talk about in the classroom," Zagar continued. "The students witnessed the profound impact that a brief interaction may have on the life of someone."

The counseling sessions ensure seniors understand that to get the best coverage at the best price possible, seniors should pick a plan that meets their unique needs.

Each year, the number of beneficiaries requesting assistance has grown, as plans change their cost structure and drug formularies.

"For the second year, Dr. Zagar and her students have provided the Ouachita Council on Aging with valuable counseling sessions that have resulted in significant monetary savings in terms of Medicare prescription costs," said Dr. Benny Blaylock, dean of the College of Pharmacy. "This is another example of the outstanding service that our clinical pharmacists provide to various institutions here in Monroe as well as in Shreveport and Baton Rouge."

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