Prescription medication is an expense that many families cannot afford. If you do
not have an insurance plan that will cover your prescriptions and are a low-income
family, then you are not alone. Fortunately there are programs available to assist
you with your medications, but finding them can be a struggle.
For many years we went without coverage for our prescriptions and it was a very
difficult time for our family financially. Making our six hundred dollar a month
health insurance payment was enough to sink us and, to add insult to injury, our
prescriptions were not included in this unreal price tag. Not having prescription
coverage was not an issue for my husband because he was healthy and rarely needed
any medication, but that was not the case for myself and my son. The first year
of my son's life was filled with illness after illness and, being his mother, I
got just about everything my son had along with him. Keeping the two of us healthy
and all of the prescriptions that I took on a daily basis added up to a huge chunk of change that our family just did not have. At times we went without medications
or we were at the complete mercy of our doctor and his samples stash.
During this time, I started doing some research on more affordable ways that we
could purchase our prescriptions without completely breaking the bank. Through my
research I discovered a few options that would help us afford our medicines while
still being able to make our other monthly expenses.
Communicate With Your Doctor
If you are without prescription coverage, it is important to have a good relationship
with your doctor. Your doctor can truly be your greatest alley and can help you
in a variety of ways.
If your doctor starts you on a new prescription drug, there are a series of questions
you can ask to make sure you get the best deal.
Begin by asking your doctor if he has any free samples you can have to try the medication.
Explain your insurance situation and see if your doctor will offer you the medication
for free. If your doctor does not have any samples for you to take home, ask him
if if he could call the drug representative from that company to send some samples
to you. These drug representatives stop in regularly to restock their supply and
are happy to get more clients under their belt. This can be a win-win situation
for all the parties involved.
If samples are unavailable, ask your doctor if you can have a "trial prescription"
so you can buy fewer of the tablets at first. This can be a good way to find out if a medication will work for you and also to see if you can tolerate any nasty
side effects. If the drug does not work for you, you will not have invested in a
month's supply that you will be unable to use.
There are also specific questions that you can ask about the medications you are
taking. For example, ask your doctor if there is a generic equivalent to the medication
you are taking because you are exploring less expensive alternatives. If there are
no generic equivalents to this medication, you can also ask about over-the-counter
(OTC) medications. Sometimes there are OTC medications you can take that will achieve
the same results as the actual prescription drug.
Another question you can ask is if you could buy a double dosage of the medication,
in pill form, and split the tablets in half for your regular dosage. There are many
prescriptions you can purchase that can easily be halved. This can result in a fifty
percent savings on your medication.
Your doctor may also know about specific aid from the drug manufacturer. Many prescription
companies have programs to give medications to patients who have no way to pay for
their prescription drugs. Programs vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but all
require your doctor to submit the application for you. Explore this route with your
doctor and see what the company requirements are and if this type of aid is available
to you & your family.
Finally, check in yearly with your doctor to see if cheaper versions of your medications
have become available. Many of us review our bills and insurance policies yearly,
so add this to your agenda and you may reap the rewards of a few dollars saved.
Online stores can offer a lot of savings for their customers, particularly Canadian
pharmacies where drug prices are much cheaper (savings of up to half on many prescriptions).
Whether you buy American or not, you must make sure that you research the company
well to ensure that the company is not a fake.
Examples of things to look for are a toll free number, real operators who answer
their phone, a physical company address, and a secure website to do your shopping.
You will also want to make sure the pharmacy is approved by the organization
that governs the state/country where the pharmacy is located.
Make sure to investigate what your state offers in assisting with the cost of your
prescription drugs. These programs are typically available to the elderly, disabled,
and low-income families. You can obtain information about these programs through
your state's website or by calling the office of your state senator or representative.
These are a few sites that you can check for additional information, for free, on
medical assistance programs:
Needy Meds is designed
to provide information about patient assistance programs which provide no cost prescription
medications to eligible participants.
Rx Outreach is a new
Patient Assistance Program developed by Express Scripts Specialty Distribution Services,
Inc. (ESSDS). The program provides qualified low-income individuals and families
with access to generic versions of brand name medications.
brings together America's pharmaceutical companies, doctors, patient advocacy organizations
and civic groups to help low-income, uninsured patients get free or nearly free
brand-name medicines. Its mission is to increase awareness of and enrollment in
existing patient assistance programs for those who may be eligible. Through this
site, Helping Patients offers a single point of access to more than 275 public and
private patient assistance programs, including more than 150 programs offered by
Partnership for Prescription Assistance
brings together America's pharmaceutical companies, doctors, other health
care providers, patient advocacy organizations and community groups to help qualifying
patients who lack prescription coverage get the medicines they need through the
public or private program that's right for them. Many will get them free or nearly
free. Its mission is to increase awareness of patient assistance programs and boost
enrollment of those who are eligible.
Together Rx Access is a card that has been created to help qualified individuals and families
without prescription drug coverage to save on brand-name prescription drugs and
other prescription products, as well as save on a wide range of generic drugs. This
card is available to those who are ineligible for Medicare, have no prescription
drug coverage (public or private), and families who meet certain income requirements.
This program is only available to legal US residents.
The sites above are your best bet for finding this information, but do not
be afraid to ask your doctor, the drug company, or your pharmacy about assistance
programs. You will find there are great savings in simply asking and exploring for