By Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P., Provider for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group
One problem we run into as health care providers and as patients is what to do if medications are too expensive. There are several options that you can check into to either get discounts or to get medication changed to something that is more affordable.
Know Your Insurance
First, know your insurance and how to look up what medications are on “formulary”. A formulary is what medications the drug companies have agreed to cover based on your plan. This can be dictated by your employer or by the insurance company that contracts with other drug companies. The list can change every 6 months or yearly, so check back frequently.
Just because technology helps us with our medical charting, it doesn’t magically know what your insurance plan covers because each employer can be unique.
Patient Assistance Programs
There are also patient assistance programs ran by drug companies. Your pharmacy should be able to help you with this or you can look up the company that makes the medication and ask for customer service.
An organized, easier way to look this information up is to go to needymeds.org. This has all of the drug company discount programs linked by simply looking up the drug name. You will have to fill out paperwork and possibly provide financial information to qualify, but often some assistance can be given especially to low income households.
There are some state and local medical assistance programs, ask around in your area for more information. There’s also a lot of information you can find on Google.com by searching “medication assistance”.
There are websites to look at, savings cards, and assistance that can be applied for.
Prescription Cost Savings Apps
Have you ever considered downloading free apps on your phone to compare costs? These apps can provide lots of cost saving information.
GoodRx is one that I reference frequently.
Sometimes, mail order or online pharmacies will save you more money than getting it filled at a local pharmacy. Also not all pharmacies have the same costs, so check pricing at more than one local pharmacy, especially for expensive prescriptions. The pharmacist or pharmacy staff can look up if taking #2 500mg tablets is cheaper than a single 1,000mg tablet for instance. Again, knowing your formulary can help with this.
Samples and Savings Cards
One last tip: Don’t forget to ask for samples or a savings card at your appointment or when you’re prescribed something. Medical offices often get discounts that can’t be found on websites. But then others are the same online as in your doctors office.
The bottom line is that there is no reason to stop taking medications or to go without. Work with your provider on what can be done for your particular situation, don’t just assume that we know what the situations is. We don’t know unless you communicate with us about these situations, and we want to give you the best care possible!