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
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
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
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
Simple changes may add up to big benefits,
including more money in your wallet.