Prescription drugs are expensive – even with health care. The co-pays can often cost hundreds of dollars a month, more than most spend on utilities or groceries. There are places to turn to that offer assistance with prescription drug costs – you just need to know where to look. Here are the Top 3 programs for discounted prescription drugs:
1) State Pharmacy Assistance Programs
Most states have programs that help qualifying individuals with their prescription drug costs – especially those on Medicare. If you show your Medicare card when you are picking up your prescriptions from the pharmacy, you get an additional discount off the purchase price. Not every pharmacy chooses to participate, but you can contact the HICAP at 1.800.434.0222 to find out which ones are.
In addition, each state has a variety of smaller, individual programs to help with your health care expenses. One good resource is the National Council on Aging’s Web site, (www.benefitscheckup.org) which has a variety of surveys you can take to see which comprehensive or prescription drug assistance program. As the name probably indicates, most of the programs listed on the site are for those individuals 65 and older, but there is also some focus on younger children and those with disabilities.
2) Patient Assistance Programs
Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) are programs that drug companies like AstraZeneca or Pfizer set up to help certain individuals get access to free or low-cost drugs. PAPs have a variety of names: charitable drug programs, medication assistance, or indigent drug policies. These programs are not government instigated, but stem from a voluntary creation on behalf of the companies. Luckily, some of the most popular and well-known drugs are available with these programs. Each major pharmaceutical company has a PAP, though each may have different eligibility and application requirements to join.
Patient Assistance Programs begin when an individual needs a particular drug. He or she can go to the drug company directly and ask for a PAP application, or they can look through an online database (many are available on websites such as RxAssist.org.) Some companies require the physician or the hospital staff to get the form by calling the directly. This is so the patient can know sooner if he or she will be eligible for the program, since the drug company will screen for eligibility before sending out the application.
Once an individual has filled out a drug PAP application and submitted it, the drug company will decide if the patient can get the medication for free. If approved, the medication will be sent to the individual’s house.
3) Veterans’ Assistance
For those who have served in the armed forces, veterans assistance will often take over a significant chunk of your prescription drug coverage. By filling your prescription at a VA medical facility, you can get significant discounts. In order to get such assistance, you need to have served on active duty and have an honorable or general discharge. For more information, contact the VA Health Benefits Service.