Healthcare costs are among the biggest challenges facing many households today, and healthcare spending continues to rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2011, spending on healthcare amounted to between 6.8% and 8.1% of income, depending on which income quintile a “consumer unit” fell into.
It’s clear that healthcare costs are taking an increasing chunk of household income, and that you need to do what you can to reduce your healthcare costs. One way to do that is to reduce the amount you are spending on medications.
Getting free medications can go a long way toward helping your situation – especially if you have a chronic condition or are battling a major health condition (like cancer).
Here are some steps you can take to get help finding free medication prescriptions:
1. Talk to your doctor.
The first instinct for many consumers, when faced with prescriptions they feel they can’t afford, is to stop taking the medication. Unfortunately, doing without can make things even worse.
If you don’t feel like you can afford your prescription medications, talk to your doctor. Share your concerns. They might be able to prescribe something less expensive. Additionally, your doctor might be able to provide you free samples of the medication to help you get through the next couple of months.
Your doctor might also know of medication trials of new drugs that are designed to help with your condition. If you can get into one of these programs, you usually get the medication for free. In some cases, you might even be compensated. With the right trial, you can get the treatment you need – and even be paid for your participation.
Many doctors also know about prescription assistance programs that help consumers afford the medications that they need.
2. Ask the hospital social worker.
Hospitals have at least one social worker on staff whose job it is to help patients who have a hard time affording their medications. There are grants and other programs available to help pay for medications, making them free to patients who are truly in need.
If you are looking for free medication prescriptions, the hospital social worker can be a good place to start. They can show you what help is available, and even help you with the grant application process.
3. Try the Partnership for Prescription Assistance.
There is actually an organization out there that can help you get medications for free. The Partnership for Prescription Assistance has a large database of hundreds of programs available that can help you get what you need at a reduced cost – or even for no cost to you. There are thousands of medications on the site’s list as well.
You will need to show that you qualify for such help, since it is needs-based. However, if you do qualify for help, it can be a great way to get the medicine you need at a much more affordable rate.
This program works by connecting you to the company that manufactures your medication. That’s right, you can actually get free medication prescriptions right from the source. Several pharmaceutical companies offer you the chance to receive help paying for your medications.
Some of the companies that offer assistance programs for their medications are Merck, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth, and Roche. These are major drug companies that can provide you with free medication, or reduced-cost medication. You can go straight to those company websites, or you can apply through the Partnership site.
4. Watch out for scams.
As always, you want to be on the lookout for scams. The resources above are all free. You won’t be charged “application fees” or any other costs to get help. As long as you use official resources, you don’t have to worry about hefty costs. If you are truly in need of help paying for your prescriptions, you have options.
Do you regularly get medications? How do you lower your medication expenses? Leave a comment!
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