This past week a friend told me how she hadn’t taken her meds for a chronic condition for over a year because she couldn’t afford the co-pay of over $500 a month. A mutual friend, who is in pharmaceuticals, described a variety of ways to obtain medication when you can’t afford it. While a lot of this was in the post Life with Chronic Conditions: Shop Around for the Best Pharmaceutical Prices, she had a direct approach for obtaining free samples and coupons to significantly reduce the price.
• Know what your health insurance covers. Your prescription benefit generally has a different co-pay/deductible than your overall policy. Some insurers wont pay for certain drugs. In short, get as much information in advance as you can.
• When a medication is prescribed, know exactly what it’s for and whether it’s absolutely necessary.
• Discuss price. Is a generic as good as the brand name? Does the provider have samples you can try?
• While a lot of doctors, clinics and health centers have “no sales reps” policies, they can call a rep to obtain coupons and/or free samples. Many doctors, hospitals and pharmacies use a system to keep track of pharmacy representatives, so it’s a simple matter of knowing who makes the drug. However, if they don’t, going to the drug website will identify who manufacturers the drug and the provider should follow the Health Professionals links for contact information. Social work departments at hospitals are another source for obtaining coupons to cover co-pays etc. Some condition specific organizations, i.e. the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, will provide coupons to members of local chapters.
• Attend condition specific workshops and conferences. Often times drug reps will be sponsoring the event and will be on hand to discuss the medication as well as provide drug coupons.
• Get to know your pharmacist. Some of them will have special programs or can help arrange a discount.
• Shop around. Consumer reports recommends using Costco as they consistently had the lowest retail prices for the drugs they were checking. You don’t need to be a member to use its pharmacy, though joining can gain you more discounts.
• If you are taking a drug that is frequently prescribed, some pharmacies-places like Walmart-will provide a much lower price than what you can get with your prescription plan.
• Statewide Prescription Assistance and Health Care Programs provide an opportunity for uninsured and under insured individuals to access medications at a significant discount. Some programs require applications and some programs require no application. Click here to see what’s available in your state.
Learn more ways to save by going to Life with Chronic Conditions: Shop Around for the Best Pharmaceutical Prices