Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, Prime Therapeutics provide free over-the-counter medicines, products to Medicare Advantage members

Quarterly, prepaid cards aim to make it easier, more affordable for seniors to make better health choices, stay safe during COVID-19

October 29, 2020

Omaha, Nebraska – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) and their pharmacy benefit manager Prime Therapeutics LLC (Prime) are expanding the over-the-counter (OTC) prepaid card offering for Medicare Advantage members enrolling in coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2021. Members can use the OTC prepaid card to pay for essential items needed to stay safe through COVID-19, in addition to items like pain relievers, cold and flu medicines, allergy drugs and antacids.

New BCBSNE Medicare Advantage members will receive a prepaid card by mail at the start of the year, redeemable for at least $25 in free OTC medicines or products. On the first day of every quarter thereafter, the card is automatically reloaded. The card, approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), will help seniors purchase over 90,000 health aids and wellness products. Even once the balance has been spent for the quarter, the OTC card continues to provide deep discounts on select products.

“In our first year offering this benefit, Medicare Advantage members collectively saved over $152,000 on their everyday pharmaceutical items,” said Mike Keiser, PharmD, RPh, pharmacy program manager for BCBSNE’s Medicare Advantage program. “Now, it’s gratifying to help cover even more resources that keep our senior members safe and healthy through COVID-19, like face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant sprays and over-the-counter medicines. As the weather turns colder, having a home delivery option for these necessities can be especially valuable.”

BCBSNE Medicare Advantage cardholders can scan products using a mobile app or visit an online portal to find participating retailers. Retailers accepting this card include pharmacy, grocery and convenience stores, or products can be ordered online for home delivery. Through the app and portal, members can also track their past transactions and card balance.

“Many seniors struggle to pay for multiple medications, and the COVID-19 outbreak requires certain supplies that may further strain household budgets,” said Jo-Ellen Abou Nader, vice president of the Transformation Value Office for Prime. “We’re thrilled to administer for our Blue Cross plans a program that makes affording these essential items easier for members.”

In 2020, BCBSNE was one of the first Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans to offer the OTC prepaid card program with Prime. Seventy-seven percent of BCBSNE Medicare Advantage members participated in the program in its first year. These existing members will not receive a new card by mail at the start of the year; instead, on Jan. 1, 2021, and the first day of each quarter thereafter, their quarterly balance will be automatically reloaded.

The Medicare Advantage Annual Enrollment Period runs Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. To learn more about BCBSNE Medicare Advantage plans and the OTC program, visit Medicare.NebraskaBlue.com.

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