Many Americans, particularly those with chronic illnesses, don’t take their medications as prescribed because they can’t afford their prescriptions. Yet not taking medications the way they’re intended can lead to additional health problems, hospitalization and even death.
The cost of prescription medications has risen steadily in the last several years, making it more difficult for Americans to pay for medication costs not covered by Medicare or private insurance. However, there are resources that can help, if you know where to look.
- Talk to your doctor. Talking to your doctor is the most important thing you can do if you need help paying for prescription drugs. If your doctor is aware that money is an issue, he (or she) may be able to give you some free medication samples. Your doctor may also be able to change your prescription to a cheaper, yet still effective, alternative.
- Use mail order. If you buy your prescriptions by mail, you may get more for your money. A lot of pharmacies will give you a 90-day supply for the price of one copay, which will save you two copays if you normally get a 30-day supply from the pharmacy. Your pharmacy can give you the paperwork you need to get started. You may need to ask your doctor to change your prescription from 30 to 90 days.
- Consider a discount drug card. Many chain pharmacies offer discount drug cards for free or for a small fee. Walgreens has a free Discount Prescription Drug Card that you can print from the site and use like a coupon. Rite Aid has a free RX Savings Program. To sign up, just ask your pharmacist. CVS offers a Health Savings Pass for $11.99 per year. The pass not only saves you money on prescriptions, but also on trips to the CVS Minute Clinic.
- Shop around. Before filling a prescription, make a few phone calls. Some discount stores, like Walmart, Sam’s Club and Costco, offer certain prescriptions for as little as $4 each, which may be cheaper than your pharmacy copay. You don’t need a membership card to buy presctiptions from Sam’s Club or Costco. Just tell the person at the door that you’re going to the pharmacy.
- Use coupons. Internet Drug Coupons and OptimizeRx are two good resources for prescription and non-prescription drug coupons.
- See if your state has a State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program. Many states offer financial assistance to people who can’t afford their prescriptions.
- Look to private groups for help. There are a number of private groups, such as Needy Meds, RX Assist, and RX Hope, that can help you find free or affordable medications. Disease-specific foundations may also offer prescription drug assistance.