Finding Help for Medication Costs

About Sarah Blake LaRose

Sarah Blake LaRose is a freelance writer and a professor of Biblical Hebrew at Anderson University School of Theology in Anderson, Indiana. She is one of three blind academic scholars who received the Jacob Bolotin Award from the National Federation of the Blind in 2016 in recognition of innovative work in the field of access to biblical language texts and tools for people who are blind.

Medical debt is one of the most staggering causes of financial crisis today. Unlike student loan debt or housing debt, it is often hard for a person with chronic illness to imagine ever paying off medical debt, even after many years go by, because the illness keeps going and the debts keep mounting. Procedures will always be required, and medications will always be needed.

For people who do not have insurance, a plethora of assistance programs and discount options has long been available. However, it has been very hard for people with existing insurance to receive help, even if a particular medication is not included on their drug plan and is therefore very expensive.

Help is not as difficult to find as it used to be. Below are a few links to programs that provide assistance to people who have existing insurance and who need help paying for medications as well as advice on locating more resources.

The Healthwell Foundation provides assistance based on medical condition to people who are insured but to people who are insured but who need help with medication copays. Assistance is provided for medications needed for a specific condition. Many, but not all, of the conditions listed are types of cancer. Conditions are added or dropped as funding becomes available or dwindles. Funding for particular conditions may or may not be available at a given time, so check the list of open conditions under the patients link.

Copays.org also provides assistance with copays to people who have insurance and who meet financial guidelines. Like the Healthwell Foundation, Copays.org provides assistance for medications for one condition only. If your condition is not on their list, they probably will not assist you.

Genentech has a list of patient assistance programs sorted by condition. Click on your condition and a listing of foundation(s) will pop up with contact information and a link to the foundation’s web page if available.

The Patient Partnership Program connects people with prescription assistance programs for which they might be eligible based on medications and personal eligibility data. To put a realistic spin on this, there are 475 assistance programs in the database, but this does not necessarily reflect the potential to find a lot of help with the medication you need most help purchasing.

When all else fails, try some creative searching. By putting the words copay assistance and the name of one of my most expensive medications into Google, I located a helpful list of programs from medication manufacturers for people with asthma. In the past, I avoided these listings because they tended to exclude people with insurance, including Medicare Part D. Today I learned that they may include people who have Medicare Part D who do not receive supplemental help. It is worth checking them out.

Searching for help to pay for expensive medications can be a time-consuming process worthy of a second job’s pay. Hopefully the relief that comes out of it will be enough to be worth the time spent.

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