Turlock seniors will have the opportunity to lower their prescription drug costs as well as receive free health screenings this weekend thanks to a Medicare Health Fair provided by the University of the Pacific.
For 10 years, UOP’s School of Pharmacy & Health Sciences has provided over 100 free health fairs throughout Northern California, and for the first time the program will be hosting an event in Turlock. The health fairs came as the department saw a need to help seniors navigate their prescription drug benefits following the introduction of the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Benefit, said Professor of Pharmacy Practice Rajul Patel.
“There are three goals we have in mind at these health fairs,” said Patel. “We try to minimize out of pocket costs for seniors, we want to ensure medications are safe and effective to take together and we want to provide a variety of healthcare screenings and services to better educate seniors about health conditions.”
At the free health fair, 75 pharmacy students and 25 licensed pharmacists will oversee no cost services, including: Medicare Part D Plan reviews, medication reviews, flu vaccines, testing for bone density, anemia, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes and screenings for asthma, falls risk, depression, memory decline, sleep disorders and anxiety.
While the health fair is targeted toward seniors, anyone who attends will be served. In order to receive help with Medicare prescription plans, seniors are encouraged to bring their Medicare card and all of their medications.
Since UOP began hosting the free health clinics, area seniors have been able to save $4.6 million on prescription drug costs.
“Medicare drug plans change quite a bit,” said Patel. “It’s important for us to make sure people aren’t paying more than they have to.”
According to Patel, 80 percent of Medicare beneficiaries can save money by switching plans per year — $1,011 annually on average. Around one in 10 seniors that attend UOP’s free health fairs have a severe medication issue, identified only through the help of on-site pharmacists.
“If these problems are left untreated, it could result in an ER visit or something more problematic,” said Patel. “There are these gaps in terms of communication that we’re able to help with.”
Patel expects an upwards of 250 seniors to attend the free health clinic, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Assyrian American Civic Club, 2618 N. Golden State Blvd.