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Saving Money on Prescription Drugs

Ineligible for Medicare? State and pharmaceutical assistance programs can help you find the drug benefits you need.

Joining a Drug Assistance Program

While you can sign up directly with a drug company program, it's often a good idea to get help -- especially if you have multiple prescriptions.

Hardin estimates that most of the people she deals with are on seven to 10 medications and so may need to sign up with several drug companies. To simplify the process, several organizations can guide people toward the drug programs they need.

Some of the major ones include:

  • Access to Benefits Coalition (202-479-6670) is sponsored by the National Council on Aging. The site has information about Medicare and other drug assistance plans.
  • NeedyMeds (215-625-9609) provides information about drug assistance from pharmaceutical, state, and local programs, as well as programs for people with specific diseases.
  • Partnership for Prescription Assistance (1-888-4PPA-NOW) offers access to more than 475 public and private patient assistance programs, including more than 180 drug company programs.
  • RxAssist (401-729-3284) offers access to drug company programs.
  • Rx Outreach (1-800-769-3880) directly offers generic drugs at a reduced price. "While the drugs aren't free," says Sagall, "they are very, very inexpensive."

Some sites may request personal information; others allow you to stay anonymous. If you have concerns about these or similar sites, ask your doctor for recommendations -- or do more research before using them.

More Resources for Drug Assistance

Many of the agencies above also help you find other resources for financial assistance. Some of these include:

  • State government programs. Your state may offer assistance with drug costs. "Some states offer a lot and some very little," says Sagall. "Some offer help for people with some diseases and not others."
  • Programs for people with specific diseases. Some charity organizations offer assistance to people with specific diseases. For instance, Hardin oversees the medication assistance programs for NORD, whose programs began as a way to provide medicine to uninsured people with certain rare diseases. But increasingly, funds have been going to people who have insurance but can't afford their co-pays, Hardin says.

To find out more about these state and charity programs, check the resources listed above, or talk to your health care provider.

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