One of the most overlooked parts of a home is often the medicine cabinet. Its contents are hidden behind the mirror, with most items ignored until you’re sick or in need of something to help with an injury.
“You don’t want to be surprised to find out you are out of ibuprofen when you have a headache or your ointment has expired when an itchy rash appears,” says Dr. Luenetta Jackson, pharmacy director at Zing Health. “Keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet can help you avoid last-minute trips to the store when you’re not feeling well.”
Thankfully, many Medicare Advantage plans offer over-the-counter (OTC) benefits that pay for items including pain relievers, cold medications, supplements, thermometers, and bandages, as part of their coverage. Zing Health plans have a generous OTC benefit worth $75 to $105 per quarter, depending which plan you are enrolled in.
“The problem is, not enough people are taking advantage of these free benefits, letting the coverage go to waste,” says Dr. Jackson. “Even if you don’t need something right now, you could be using your benefit to stock up on Medicare-approved OTC items you may be running low on or are nearly expired.”
What’s in Store: From Allergy Medication to Zinc Oxide
Medicare Part D, which is included with many Medicare Advantage plans, provides coverage for prescription drugs and some types of diabetic supplies. For health care supplies on the other side of the pharmacist’s counter, OTC coverage supplements Part D coverage.
OTC benefits can be used for remedies for common conditions such as fever, headaches, allergies, upset stomachs, coughs, and colds. Other items that can be purchased with the benefit include vitamins and other dietary supplements, first aid supplies, sterile gloves, incontinence supplies, supports, and blood pressure cuffs. Even items you use every day, like toothpaste and toothbrushes, reading glasses, contact lens solution, compression socks, and hand sanitizer are covered.
And with spring in the air, now is the perfect time for people with seasonal allergies to prep their medicine cabinet with allergy pills, nasal sprays, ointments, or eye drops for the season. Summer supplies such as sunscreen and sunburn treatments -- as well as calamine lotion or anti-itch cream for bug bites -- should also be replaced each year for maximum effectiveness.
How to Get OTC Supplies: First, Activate the Benefit Card
OTC benefits are easy to use at your local drugstore or through the mail. (Many drugstores also offer same-day home delivery.) First, however, members must activate their card first by calling the toll-free number on the back. Zing Health can help members locate the nearest participating store or send a catalog; just call Customer Service at 1-866-946-4458 (TTY 711).