Prescription costs can be devastating to one’s monthly budget and unfortunately it isn’t a choice or a luxury but often times a matter of life or death. Many families find themselves without health care or prescription coverage and have to pay these expenses out of their pocket.
My father is one of them and his dilemma is what prompted me to write this article. He goes without many of his medicines because he can not afford them. He does not have prescription coverage and even though he qualifies for Medicare Part D it pretty much winds up being a wash for him.
To make a long story short, my fathers prescriptions that he is suppose to take would end up costing roughly $15,000 a year even with Medicare part D and when you are on a fixed income of $1,600 a month it just doesn’t work. So what does he do…….only takes the ones that he literally can’t live without. Sad, I know. His doctor also tries hard to give him meds from the sample closet and it is greatly appreciated but many of his meds can’t be obtained this way. This has been an ongoing battle for years and I am always trying to help him get his meds at a discount so he can have enough money for the basic necessities.
I am not an expert on this matter in no way shape or form but I have spent hours upon hours researching and decided to share the information I have learned. I am not in any way endorsing any of these companies or organizations that will be mentioned within this article.
1. Contact the drug maker of your medication.
- The majority of drug maker companies offer financial assistance programs. You can often get your medications at a discount based off of your income or sometimes even free.
- http://www.rxassist.org/default.cfm is The Web’s most current and comprehensive directory of Patient Assistance Programs
2. Search out a Patient Advocacy Group
- These non-profit organizations will help you search out the resources that will help you. They are just a wealth of knowledge on these subjects. Here are a few that I know of.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if they have any samples in their sample closet.
- Many doctors try to reserve these for patients without prescription coverage but YOU need to make your doctor aware that you do not have prescription coverage. They are not mind readers and may not be aware of this if you don’t tell them.
- Drug Reps go around from doctor to doctor and hand out samples like candy. Not all drugs are given out as samples to doctors but you don’t know until you ask.
4. Always be sure your doctor writes your prescription for a generic IF there is one and IF it is a suitable equal.
- You would think this is an automatic but not all doctors think about this.
- Even if you DO have prescription coverage, ask for generics. The difference in Co-Pay can be substantial for many health care plans and now-a-days pretty much all health care plans have tiered prescription co-pays.
- Many pharmacies offer discounted generic plans too where you can get a 90 day supply for a low set fee.
5. ALWAYS compare prescription costs from pharmacy to pharmacy. You will be AMAZED at the difference in price from one place to another. Sometimes it is 100’s of dollars.
- It is no different than buying a car. Would you pay $5,000 more for a car when you could get it cheaper at another dealership? No, you wouldn’t so don’t do it with your prescriptions.
- I don’t necessarily think that having different prescriptions at different pharmacies is a smart idea so write down your entire list of prescriptions and call all of the different pharmacies and get price quotes then go with the one that is going to save you the most money.
- This takes some time to get prices but if you are saving money it is worth the time and hassle
6. In my experience Sam’s Club and Costco are significantly cheaper than the other pharmacies.
- Contrary to popular belief you DO NOT have to have a membership to either one of these clubs to use their pharmacy. That is actually against the law. Anyone can walk in and use the pharmacy. Just tell them at the door what you are there for.
7. Search out local resources and organizations that offer assistance.
8. If you suffer from a chronic illness/disease reach out to the corresponding organization.
- Example: if you have diabetes, contact the American Diabetes Association
- These organizations can often times help point you in the direction you need to go in order to get assistance
9. If you suffer from a chronic illness/disease look into participating in clinical trials and/or medical studies.
- Obviously this is a decision that needs to be discussed in great depth with your doctor and may not even be right for many people but it is always an option to look into
- Clinical trials aren’t always for new medications. They can often be on existing medications with different dosages or a combinations of known therapies
- There are many medical studies that compare already approved drugs in side by side comparisons
If you do suffer from a disease such as I do (Multiple Sclerosis) your health care professional
is often already participating in these such studies and many times participating patients will not only receive free drug treatment but will also receive free health care while they are in the study which can easily be thousands of dollars of free health care. My Multiple Sclerosis Specialists keeps me up to date on all of the various studies every visit I have with him. I have never participated because I currently choose not to take medications for my MS but I can tell you that many of these studies are like angels from heaven for some people. When I did take medication a few years ago, the drug I was taking at the time was over $2000 a month and if I had not had insurance at the time, there is no way I could have ever afforded the medication.
I hope this information can be useful to many because I know the stress and heartache that can be involved in trying to get your prescriptions, or in my case, trying to help my father get his. If anyone has anything to add to this I would love to hear from you. I can always be reached at email@example.com.