Medication Costs and Our Economy
Help Anita! I was just recently laid off from work and am taking some important medications that I can not afford. I can’t afford the COBRA plan either…its outrageous! Any ideas for me on how I can get my medicine? —Cancelled in Charlotte
Very good question now that so many are going through similar situations! Have no fear however, many companies are trying to help.
In today’s economy getting the prescription medication you need is becoming a big problem for those who do not carry health insurance or are on a limited budget.Have no fear however, here are a few options.
1. Be aware of the discount programs that many pharmacies are now offering. For example:
·Wal-Mart has a $4 generic program and 90 day prescriptions for $10 and a downloadable PDF list of which they discount.You can find it on the walmart.com website under the pharmacy section.
·CVS has a program called CVS Health Savings Pass. It costs $15 annually to sign up and there are only certain medications allowed but the cost is only $11.99 for a 90 day supply of over 400 medications. It also allows you to save on things such as flu shots, test strips, and health screenings. More information is on their website under the pharmacy section.It is listed on the left column under Health Savings Pass .
·RiteAide has something called the RX Savings Card that gives you discounts on generic medications and you pay only $8.99 for a 30-day supply. The information is at ritead.com under the pharmacy section. Scroll down until you see the box with Rx Savings Program.
·Walgreens has a prescriptions savings club also. Their 90 day supplies are $12 for generic and they boast over 8000 types of medications you can save on and $9.99 for a 30-day supply.You can find their information walgreens.com under the pharmacy section.Scroll down and find the Prescription Saving Club section.There they have a downloadable PDF of the medications they discount.
These are only four pharmacies but you can find out about any other by going to any pharmacy website and searching for discount programs. Though some are easier to locate than others you may be surprised to find your pharmacy has a plan no one suggested to you.
2. Ask questions at your pharmacy.When CVS realized that they didn’t have my particular generic brand they offered to send over the prescription for me if I could find a pharmacy that did. I know I could have done that myself but I appreciated that they offered.
3 .If your pharmacy doesn’t accept the generic brand you need contact the company that makes the drug. Many companies now have what they call “indigent programs” that will, if you qualify by income and/or situation, either give you the medication at a deep discount or sometimes even free.
You will need to fill out some forms and have your doctor fill in his portion and send in the information but most of them will keep you on the program for 1 year unless you don’t need it anymore. Some will ask you to verify your income, some will ask if they can contact you with consumer surveys later and some will ask you to pick your prescription up at the doctor’s office rather than a pharmacy; very small prices to pay in my opinion!
Here are the basic steps to doing this:
Find out who makes your medicine under the true name (before the generic version). If you don’t know just Google it. Likely the name you enter in Google will give you the name of the original also.
Google the name brand (if the site didn’t tell you already) and find out who the manufacturer is.
Go to the manufacturer’s website and download the forms or call the company and find out what you need to do. You can normally find the information to do this under the Contact Us at the bottom of the website.
I found it was easier to call and speak to a live person and then print off the forms (they’ll tell you exactly where so you won’t have to search everywhere) and that way I can ask questions if I have any. I also found out about a couple of other programs they had this way. For example, when I called, Pfizer asked me many questions and found the right program for me. They had several programs; one that would help with no income, one for low income and a savings card program that would let me get better prices on less than 90 day supplies. The card they would give me (in addition to the other programs) and it would help if, for example, I got ill and needed an antibiotic for a few days. Pfizer also said that they could connect me to a pharmacist online with their company to see if any of the other medications I take with other companies had a cousin in Pfizer.They also offered to get other phone numbers for companies I might need regarding the same programs. Very helpful!
4. It will take about 2 weeks to have everything in place for you to get your medicine since you must download the form (or have it sent), take it to your doctor, have him fill out his portion, mail it in and have it processed and mailed out to you so don’t delay getting it started. In the meantime talk to your doctor as you are asking them to fill out the forms to see if they have any samples you can have until it all goes through.
The long and short of it is don’t panic and do not go without your medicine! I lay in bed wheezing at night for 2 months during a layoff before I called on these programs. My asthma wasn’t something I should have thought I could just take care of myself. If you have no other options speak with your doctor about it. They may have other ideas not mentioned here.