How to Find Help Paying for Prescriptions
Seniors pay a big price for the prescription medications they need to stay healthy, even with Medicare prescription drug coverage. Kaiser Family Foundation research shows the cost of copays for prescriptions often totals thousands of dollars a year for seniors. For some, the financial burden leads to skipping doses, cutting pills in half to make the medication last longer, or simply going without. If you’re having trouble affording your prescriptions, here are some possible sources of help.
Talk to your doctor about drug cost
It may feel awkward to discuss money with your doctors, but they need to know if you can’t fill your prescriptions because of the cost. Some doctors keep samples from drug company representatives to give to patients who need a little help covering the cost in the short run. Your doctors may also know about coupons and patient assistance programs (more about PAPs below). They may also be able to prescribe a lower-cost generic drug, although generic drug prices are rising, too.
Ask your pharmacist for advice on paying for medication
Pharmacists see the sticker shock their customers face at the register and are usually eager to help. Ask your pharmacist if he or she knows about coupons to help with a one-time prescription or PAPs for medications you need long-term. Some pharmacy chains and grocery stores offer $4 deals on 30-day supplies of common generic drugs. Others have their own prescription discount card programs that offer much lower drug prices to cardholders.
Apply for Medicare’s Extra Help program
If you’re a Medicare beneficiary with a low income and few assets, you may qualify for the Extra Help program even if you’re not eligible for Medicaid or SSI. Extra Help’s upper income limit for a single senior in 2016 is $17,820, with a maximum of $13,640 in assets (including savings, stocks, and bonds). Extra Help recipients may see a reduction in their premium and deductible costs, and prescription copays are currently capped at $2.95 for generics and $7.40 for name-brand medications.
Contact your state health department
Some states have copay assistance programs for low-income residents. The programs are usually open to people with specific illnesses, and availability varies from state to state. Ask your state health department or check the Medicare Rights Center’s national list of state pharmaceutical assistance programs.
Look for prescription assistance programs (PAPs)
The Partnership for Prescription Assistance is a free source of information about drug-company prescription insurance programs. Just enter the name of the drug you need and you’ll see what, if any, PAP can help you cover the cost. You can also search for affordable healthcare clinics in your area.
Connect with non-profit prescription help programs
Many doctors, public health experts, and policymakers have developed non-profit programs to help people pay for their medication. You can search with these three resources:
- The Medicare Rights Center’s charity copay help list
- The Patient Advocate Foundation’s Co-Pay Relief website
- Needymeds.org, a clearinghouse for patient information on affording prescription drugs
You may also be able to free up more money for your medication by getting help with other expenses. Check out these other financial resources for seniors.