Take Advantage of Free Medicare Medication Therapy Management Benefits

By Patricia Barry

Copyright © 2015 AARP. All rights reserved.

Experts on the wise use of drugs always recommend having your pharmaceutical intake reviewed from time to time by a doctor or pharmacist. Do you really need all those drugs?

If you’re enrolled in a Part D plan, you may qualify to have this analysis done free of charge under its Medication Therapy Management (MTM) service. That’s a mouthful of a name, but it’s a very worthwhile benefit that you should seriously consider accepting if it’s offered to you (which is the only way you can get it; you can’t just sign up because you want it).

Medications have powerful effects on the body, and not always in ways that are good for you. If you take many drugs for different conditions and they interact badly together, you may even wind up with more symptoms . . . that you then have to take yet another med for.

All Part D plans must provide MTM services. But your plan will invite you to participate only if you meet certain conditions:

  • You take at least two to eight different Part D-covered drugs — your plan specifies the exact minimum number.

  • You have at least two or three specified chronic conditions (such as diabetes, heart failure, bone disease, breathing problems, and so on).

  • The total cost of your drugs (what you pay plus what your plan pays) exceeds a specified annual amount ($3,138 in 2015, $3,507 in 2016).

Your plan’s MTM must put you (or your appointed representative, such as a caregiver) in contact personally with a clinical pharmacist who conducts a comprehensive review of all your meds (including nonprescription drugs, supplements, and vitamins) at least once a year. The MTM may also work with you to develop a medication action plan to improve your health.

The MTM can’t make changes in your drug regimen; only your doctor can do that. But the MTM may contact your doctor for information and also share recommendations about the meds you take. You should also be given a detailed list of all your medications; keep it handy to share with your current doctor, any new one, or the emergency room staff in a hospital so that they know exactly what you’re taking.