UOP mobile Medicare clinics help beneficiaries save thousands
This fall, University of the Pacific (UOP) will host 14 free mobile clinics throughout the Central Valley and Northern California to assist Medicare beneficiaries with making informed decisions about their Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Beneficiaries should bring their red, white, and blue Medicare card and all their prescription and over-the-counter medications.
This is the 11th year the program will bring students and faculty from the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to senior centers, nursing homes, and places of worship. The events will take place from Carmichael to Turlock between mid-October and late November, during the peak of Medicare’s open enrollment period. The first event will take place on Sunday, October 15 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the School in Stockton.
“There are about 30 different ways to get your Medicare prescription drug coverage. We sit down with Medicare beneficiaries and identify the lowest cost plan based on their medications and individual needs. All of the hassle is taken care of for them,” says Dr. Rajul Patel, professor of pharmacy practice.
Patel says plans change drastically every year.
“Think of it as an annual checkup (for your finances). Also, the annual deductible is going up this year,” Dr. Patel adds.
A typical review usually takes an hour. Pharmacy students, overseen by licensed pharmacists and professors, look at the eight or nine medications a typical Medicare beneficiary takes. They help them look for a lower cost drug plan, review drug-drug interactions, and determine if the beneficiary has a severe medication-related issue that warrants a follow-up by the prescribing physician.
“We offer about a dozen different health services at these events, including bone density testing, blood pressure testing, cholesterol screening, mental health screening, diabetes screening, and a flu vaccine,” explains Dr. Patel.
Dr. Patel says UOP has found the review helps about eight out of 10 Medicare beneficiaries save money. The average beneficiary realizes a savings of about $1,030 per year.
Hong Nguyen, a second-year Pacific doctor of pharmacy student from Stockton, says Pacific’s mobile Medicare clinics make consultations with a health care professional more accessible.
“Beneficiaries get that one-on-one time with us while we review and optimize their Part D plans and medication regimens. They are very patient with us and have expressed high satisfaction through our feedback surveys. In addition, many of the preceptors (licensed pharmacists) who volunteer for the events have been a part of the Medicare class in the past. Many of the returning beneficiaries remembered these Medicare students, who are now UOP pharmacy graduates. This shows that the clinics have built wonderful, nurturing and long-lasting relationships,” Hong says.
Hong, who was part of the translation and education committee for the clinics, says UOP makes an effort to reach out to seniors who speak other languages.
“We translate many of the formal documents into different languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Russian. We have student translators on hand to translate and speak to the beneficiaries in their native language,” she explains.
Emily Highsmith, a second-year Pacific doctor of pharmacy student from Lodi, says she thinks the program is necessary because the Medicare system is complicated.
“It’s really important that we educate the beneficiaries, especially as they are aging and more medications are being added (to the coverage list),” she says.
Emily added the program helps pharmacy students grow professionally.
“Becoming involved in the mobile Medicare clinics allow me to realize that I can impact the community on a broad level. I can incorporate public events and outreach like this into my career,” Emily says.
Pacific’s mobile Medicare clinics are funded by grants written by the School’s pharmacy professors. This year’s contributing organizations include the San Joaquin County Human Services Agency, United Way, Kaiser Permanente and UOP’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Individuals can donate by writing a check to the University of the Pacific, Medicare Part D program.
For More Information:
Medicare Health Fair Event Dates
*Please call the phone number provided below each even to schedule an appointment.
10 AM-6 PM
UOP School of Pharmacy
757 Brookside Rd., Stockton
Hutchins Street Square, Kirst Hall
1 PM-6 PM
125 S. Hutchins St., Lodi
1 PM-6 PM
Tracy Community Center
950 E. St., Tracy
10 AM- 6 PM
3400 Wagner Heights Rd., Stockton
1 PM-6 PM
LOEL Senior Center
105 S. Washington St., Lodi
1 PM-7 PM
First Congregational Church
3409 Brookside Rd., Stockton
1 PM-6 PM
Bethany Home, Town Square Campus
1350 Nikkel Way, Ripon
1 PM- 5 PM
Sierra Vista Homes
2436 S. Belleview St., Stockton