How can your doctor help?
To get your doctor to help, tell him or her that your prescription medicine bill is a financial burden. Ask for drugs that are less expensive but that work just as well. Often, a condition can be treated with one of several different medicines, and your doctor may be able to prescribe one that costs less.
You might ask your doctor if he or she has medicine samples, vouchers, or other resources for you, especially when you are trying out a new medicine to see whether it will work.
What about the Medicare drug program?
The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit began in January 2006. For the most current information about what the Medicare Part D Act means for you, go to www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE. Your doctor, pharmacist, or social worker may also be able to help you know about your Medicare benefits.
What other resources are available?
See whether the pharmaceutical company that makes your medicine has a patient assistance program. Some companies offer free or discounted drugs for people who cannot afford them. These companies often require that your doctor contact them first about your case. Your doctor will need to be involved, and the application process can be complex. You may need to provide documentation to verify your income. The Partnership for Prescription Assistance provides doctors and other health care providers with the information they need to access these programs. You can find out more at www.pparx.org.
Some states have programs for seniors and people with disabilities or low incomes.
If you have a rare disease, you may qualify for a National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) medication assistance program. NORD's assistance programs help people with rare diseases whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to pay for their prescribed medicines. For more information, visit www.rarediseases.org/patients-and-families/patient-assistance.
Most veterans know that the Veterans Administration offers prescription drug coverage for retired veterans. But many people don't know that the same service is available for their families and survivors. Call the VA Health Revenue Center toll-free at 1-877-222-VETS (8387), or go to www.va.gov/health.
Some organizations offer special discounts on prescription drugs for their members. For example, AARP and AAA offer savings. Many pharmacies offer some form of a discount plan for seniors. Community health clinics or programs may have low- or no-cost prescription drugs for those who qualify. Also, some pharmacies offer a set price for some medicines-for example, $5 for a 30-day supply of certain generic medicines.