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Paying for Medications

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Paying for prescription medications can be a challenge for anyone with a chronic condition.  This challenge may be faced both by those who have health insurance as well as those who do not. Those with health insurance may have policies that do not include prescription drug coverage, or their drug coverage may have restricted formularies, high deductibles, high copays, or other limitations which increase out-of-pocket expense.  For those without insurance, the problem is even worse.

While the long term solution for everyone is to be in a position to access an insurance program through either the private or public sector that provides adequate coverage, those who face the challenge of being able to afford medications are not without recourse.  Below are several options that should be explored if you or a member of your family is unable to afford the on-going cost of prescription medication.

State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs
As of May 2009, 38 States have enacted laws to create some form of pharmaceutical assistance program designed to help those who are unable to afford prescription medications, but who do not meet the eligibility criteria for Medicaid. By April 2009, 32 states had such programs already in operation. In early 2009, no fewer than 42 states had authorized or established some form of assistance providing pharmacuetical assistance or coverage.  While many of these programs focus on helping the elderly, they also offer assistance to individuals with disabilities.  The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a helpful chart summarizing these programs, with contact information for each. 

Pharmaceutical Patient Medication Assistance
Some pharmaceutical manufacturers offer assistance in helping to cover the cost of prescription medications. They may do this either through a Medication Assistance Program for a particular medication, or through a Discount Card that provides varying degrees of discounts on selected medications. Information on these programs and discount cards may be found through the following sites:

  • NeedyMeds.org - A non-profit with the mission of helping people who cannot afford medicine or healthcare costs.
  • RxAssist - A national program from Volunteers in Health, funded through private foundations, like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, through corporate sponsorships such as Express Scripts and also from private donations.
  • Partnership for Prescription Assistance - The PPA is sponsored by America's pharmaceutical research companies. (Also known as HelpingPatients.org)

CHADD Discount Prescription Card
CHADD has developed a Medical Benefit Program designed to help those with or without insurance reduce the cost of paying for prescription medications.

Last Update: August 2009

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