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Prescription Drug Programs
for Caregivers

By  Marie Santangelo, Staff Writer

 

As caregivers know, not all loved ones may qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. This puts some medications, especially newer ones, out of reach. Patients in need of help with drug costs need to look at a variety of sources. One surprising resource is the company that produces the medication.

Depending on the physician, you may find yourself waiting behind numbers of pharmacy reps in the office. It’s not such a bad thing when your doctor gives free samples of medications that may help do the trick. Most of the medications may not be on the “preferred drug” list, which means your insurance company requires a higher copayment, if they cover the drug at all. Drug companies are becoming wiser, offering help with some medication cost to lower copays.

The sample medication the doctor gives you may or may not have rebate offers or other info attached. A quick look through the Internet may help in finding assistance with the sample medication.

Assistance programs have criteria that must be met to participate in them. Incomes of $20,000 or less for an individual and $26,000 for a couple are two examples. Even if you meet the income standards, your assets will also be checked since they can be an option for paying for medications.

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) allows caregivers, patients, drug companies and other groups such as community organizations to find the appropriate program to connect patient to medication. The toll free number 1-888-4PPA-NOW is just one way to contact them. Their “Help is Here” bus has toured state fairs and community events, offering information and real help. The bus is equipped with mobile phones, computer access and individuals ready and willing to make pharmaceutical care affordable.

Their website offers information on qualifying for programs. A short questionnaire is filled out to make your search easier. Point your cursor to
www.pparx.org and begin searching.

Web browsing will take you to a number of sites, but be sure that the assistance programs are free of charge. There are some that charge “refundable, one time” fees, but there is no need to pay for something if it is available at
no cost.

At www.needymeds.com, you can use their interactive program and download from almost 200 programs that can assist you. Bonuses include articles and a free month’s trial of their prescription tracking software to see if it’s right for you.

For protracted dosing, discuss alternatives with your doctor. You may benefit by new, top of the line relief for a short period, but be able to be maintained on more affordable brand or generic once the crisis period abates. One example would be cholesterol medication. If you are not maintaining your diet and exercise sufficiently while going to town on high fat meals, you could drive your blood values out of whack and require more sophisticated drug intervention. Samples may give you a boost in normalizing while you put yourself back on the diet and exercise track. Prescription rebates and other programs may offset the cost should you need an extended course in the newer meds.

By no means should patients or caregivers rely on shopping online for medications unless they know the source. There are numerous scams on the Internet and elsewhere designed to bilk people of money while providing inferior medications. You may not be sure you are getting the actual medication in some instances, so enlist family and friends to research for you.

Best buys for medications can be researched through Consumer Reports. Their online system can be found at www.consumerreports.org/health/ where you can navigate to the prescription menu.

When visiting your doctor, concern yourself with the necessity of being medicated. Your doctor may have samples and a willingness to prescribe, but you should make a mutual decision on whether prescription medication is the right course of treatment. For example, lifestyle changes that you will commit to can be implemented and evaluated within six weeks. Diet, exercise, and a commitment to stress management may be your doctor’s preferred suggestions before pulling out the prescription pad. Simple changes may add up to big benefits, including more money in your wallet.

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