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Retiree Health FAQs

  • Are generic drugs effective?

    The role of the FDA is to ensure that all new brand and generic drugs are safe and effective. The FDA also monitors reports from doctors, pharmacists, and nurses on adverse drug reactions. As with all drugs, brand and generic, some adverse reactions are possible.

    To learn more about generic drugs, you can contact the FDA at 1-888-INFO-FDA, or visit the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research website at

    Important notice to retired participants enrolled in the Medicare Supplement Plan or enrolled in Medicare. The Mandatory Prescription Drug Plan provides a comprehensive prescription drug plan which has been certified as creditable coverage. This means that the actuarial value of the Mandatory Prescription Drug Plan equals or exceeds the actuarial value of standard prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D. Therefore, do not enroll in Medicare Part D.

    If you do enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, you will be charged an additional $32 per month which will be deducted from your monthly pension check effective upon enrollment in the Medicare Part D. plan.

    If you erroneously enroll in a Medicare Part D drug plan and later chose to disenroll from this plan, you should contact Medicare for your disenrollment rights.

  • What is a generic drug?

    A new drug is given two names. One is the brand name, which is what the manufacturer chooses to call the product. The other is the generic drug, which is the name of the chemical compound of the drug. Every drug has a generic name to describe its active ingredient.

  • Why are most generic drugs less expensive than brand name products?

    When a company develops a new drug, it has a patent for about 17 years. The patent protects the drug company's right to be the only manufacturer of that drug. After the patent expires, other companies can then manufacture and sell the drug under either a different brand name or the generic name. Because of lower research costs and more competition, the new product is usually sold at a lower price than the original brand name product.

  • How are generic drugs approved for use?

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviews all name brand and generic products for safety and effectiveness. Before a generic drug is approved for use in the United States, the drug company must provide proof to the FDA that the product has the same active ingredient when compared to the brand name product. In addition, the generic product must meet FDA standards for the amount of active ingredient and speed of absorption into the body. When the generic product meets these standards, it is considered equivalent.