There's no denying some prescription medicines can be expensive. And while there are a few ways to cut costs, they don't always pan out. Not every drug on the market has a generic alternative, for instance.
But a trip to the pharmacy doesn't have to kill your budget. The truth is there are lots of financial assistance programs out there. Some are tailored for people without health insurance. Others focus on Medicare recipients on a limited income. The trick is in finding them. Here are four places to start looking right away.
1. Your state government. Every state has some kind of prescription assistance program. The rules vary, of course, but the most common programs provide help for:
- Senior citizens
- HIV medications
- Mothers and newborns
Some states require that you use their Medicaid programs, but that's not always the case. If you can't qualify for Medicaid, you still might be able to find another program. Contact your state's Department of Human Services to learn what's available.
2. Pharmaceutical companies. There are more than 150 drug manufacturers who offer some kind of financial assistance. Of course, they usually cover only the costs of their own medicines. They can't really help you pay for competitor's products. But even a little help is better than none at all.
To find out if your drug maker has a program, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Or try visiting the drug company's Web site. You can also contact the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, which maintains a database of pharmacy assistance programs. Other organizations with similar databases include Rx Hope, Needy Meds, and Patient Assistance.
3. Medicare. If you're a Medicare recipient on a fixed income, you might qualify for the Extra Help program. Also called the Low Income Subsidy, Extra Help gives you added discounts on prescription premiums, deductibles and copayments. It also exempts you from the coverage gap known as the donut hole.
The eligibility requirements are complicated, though. You'll need a representative to help you with the paperwork. Contact your local Social Security office and schedule an appointment to get started.
4. Your local community. There may be plenty of untapped resources right in your own backyard. For instance, many hospitals have programs for qualifying patients. To learn more, contact a social worker or patient advocate.
And even if your hospital doesn't have such a program, you may be able to find help elsewhere. This might include a community clinic, religious organization or other nonprofit charity. Remember to be as thorough as possible. Leave no stone unturned, as the old saying goes. You never know what you'll turn up.
Created on 08/17/2009
Updated on 08/17/2009
- Center for Medicare Advocacy. Finding help to get prescription drugs.
- U.S. Social Security Administration. Understanding the Extra Help with your Medicare prescription drug plan. April 2009.
- Partnership for Prescription Assistance. Participating patient assistance programs.