Help With Prescriptions

by Kirby Horton

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Anyone who takes medicine knows that the cost of prescription medication is rising in this country. For a lot of us, prescriptions help us live a more productive, happier life, but only if we can afford to take them. Here are some ideas that may help you pay less.

  • Talk to your doctor. Not being able to afford medications is nothing to be embarrassed about. Your doctor wants to know everything that affects your healthcare, including whether or not you can pay for your medications. If the price means you may not fill your prescriptions and take your medicine, then it is important to be honest about this with your doctor. Taking your prescriptions helps him help you! There may be a cheaper generic drug or a similar medicine that you can take, but your doctor may not consider these unless you explain that you cannot pay for the more expensive drug. Your doctor may also have samples of your medicine that he can give you at no cost.

  • Shop around. Studies have shown that prices can vary a substantial amount from pharmacy to pharmacy. Surprisingly, a medicine may be cheaper at one pharmacy than at another. As much as you may like to have everything at one store and may like a particular pharmacist, shop around to help lower your prescription medicine costs. You should ask your pharmacy if it can match the lower price. You can also ask the pharmacist for part of the prescription if there is the possibility that the side effects will mean you cannot take this drug. Ask your pharmacist if you can fill the rest of the prescription at no extra cost if the prescription works for you.

  • Consider buying online. Savings can be huge. Some very reputable Canadian drug stores offer the original, brand name medicine and can save you up to 70%! Be very cautious though. Do not buy from sites that will sell prescription medicines without a prescription. That is the first sign that they are not legit. If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't true, so don't send money or a credit card number.

  • Look for $4 Generics. Recently, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Target announced that their stores now offer generic medicine for $4 per prescription fill or refill. Walgreens and other pharmacies are considering meeting this price. Be aware that not all generic drugs are offered through these programs and some local pharmacies have been offering the drugs, on the lists, at a similar price. Some critics say that this pricing is a "bait and switch" tactic because many of the drugs on the lists are older generics that are rarely used. For example, Wal-Mart hopes people who can't get their medication for $4 may buy it at the higher price then shop at the store before leaving.

  • Study your medical benefits carefully. If you have health insurance, know what is covered and whether or not there is a limit to the total amount of coverage each year. You can get help with insurance questions through a SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program).

  • Look for Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). If you have a low income and haven't checked out these programs, do so. Rx Help is available to individuals who meet criteria set by each individual drug company. PAPs provide low-cost or free medication for those who qualify. Remember to look for all your medicines, not just the most expensive.

  • Check out Assistance for Specific Diseases and Conditions. In this category, you can find help with a variety of medical expenses, ranging from insurance co-pay assistance to medical supplies. These programs are listed by particular ailment and are sometimes limited to specific geographic areas.

There is prescription help out there; you just need to be creative and assertive to get the medicine that you desperately need.

Kirby Horton is Founder, President and CEO of Rx HELP, a Prescription Assistance Company. He has over 30 years experience helping Americans with their healthcare needs. He can be reached at 866-960-9497

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