Jim Miller, an avid golfer for more than 50 years, is gearing up to hit the links.
Inside his home you’ll find a trophy and other mementos to show his love for the game that keeps him active, despite him having to use an inhaler and take six different medications to control issues like blood pressure and cholesterol.
Miller, 78, uses Holland Pharmacy to fill that medication, an approved location under his Medicare Advantage Plan with Independent Health.
"They covered what I needed them to cover," Miller said. "Good people to work with."
But after watching a commercial with a former NFL quarterback, he decided to switch his plan to Wellcare, which offered to save him money.
What You Need To Know
- There are many Medicare plans for seniors to choose from
- Most plans are affiliated with thousands of pharmacies, both independent and national
- Because of a FEMA led emergency declaration, people can enroll or change plans through the end of May
"Since I'm retired, I thought that would be a great thing," said Miller.
And let him continue to use his home town pharmacy.
"I know the people there," Miller said. "Been very comfortable with them. They're only a half-mile from my house."
Jim then got a letter from Wellcare stating he could no longer use Holland Pharmacy, but wasn't told why, and instead would have to drive to the closest national chain about 15 minutes one way from his house.
"I didn't understand why they wouldn't deal with the same pharmacy they've been dealing with for all year here with me," Miller said.
Holland Pharmacist and owner Barb Roberts says stories like this are becoming all too common with certain plans.
"The frustration comes in because we've built up this relationship over the years with our patients," said Roberts. "We're able to give them that personal care and attention that they're looking for and all of a sudden it's been severed."
So has a portion of her income, as she's losing about a dozen patients a year, which has been a prescription for disaster to her business.
"Being that it is our livelihood, part of being an independent, we try to recruit as many customers as possible, encouraging people to fill local," said Roberts.
Jim continues to do business with Barb, after he switched back to Independent Health.
"It makes me feel real good because now I can stay with my local pharmacy," said Miller. "The people that know me and I know them."
One less thing he has to worry about, so he can focus more on his game.
"So, I really enjoy that Sunday to go out and play," said Miller.
Because FEMA declared a state of emergency across the state in mid-March stemming from severe winter weather, a special enrollment period has been extended to May 31 for anyone wanting to sign up or change their plan.
A Wellcare spokesperson tells us they partner with a network of 60,000 national and independent pharmacies across the state and country, and tried to contract with the Pharmacy Administration Services Organization that includes Holland Pharmacy, but could not reach an agreement, adding, "At Wellcare, we are committed to ensuring our members have access to high-quality care and services, including access to affordable prescription drug coverage."
The company also directs anyone with questions to call the phone number on the back of their member ID card.