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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.

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.

O, Canada?

You've probably heard that drugs sold in Canada -- and other foreign countries -- are cheaper than those in the U.S. While it can be true, experts urge caution.

"We don't really get into the issue of buying drugs from Canada or elsewhere because it's too fraught," says Parkin. "Our position is that there are a lot of programs here in the U.S. that people can use without having to get drugs from other countries."

Sagall, from NeedyMeds, is also wary.

"I don't advise people about getting drugs out of the country," Sagall says, who goes on to admit that "[he] would say that getting them from Canada or Great Britain is probably OK because they are countries that have safety regulations that are similar to ours."

But he does worry about discounted drugs coming from other areas in the world.

"I'm concerned about safety," he says. "You definitely want to avoid any country or organization that will send you the drug without a prescription."

Problems with the Medicare Drug Benefit

While the new Medicare drug plans have helped many people get affordable drugs, they have also been laden with problems. For example, many people have found the basic medications they have been taking for years are not covered.

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