How to get Free and Low-Cost Prescription Medicine [New for 2019]

Free Prescriptions from The Medicine Program

The ongoing, rising cost of prescription medications can make it extremely difficult for anyone to get the drugs that they need. The issue has become even more prevalent among those with no, or limited prescription coverage and it can lead to a dangerous road of serious health complications or individuals skipping out on their medications or taking lower amounts than needed to make ends meet.

This financial struggle is particularly hard on those who are taking long-term, multiple medications. Fortunately, there are programs in place that can help anyone in need of prescription medications get the financial assistance they are looking for. If you are worried about paying for prescription medications, then the more you know about these different available programs, the better. Whether you are suffering from a chronic illness or an acute condition related to an auto accident or workers’ compensation injury

An Overview of Low-Cost & Free Medicine Programs

Some pharmaceutical companies have their own prescription assistance programs for both families and individuals who have some type of financial need. To qualify for these programs, patients typically need a doctor’s consent and proof of your financial situation.

Some of these programs also only apply to individuals who don’t have any health insurance or prescription drug benefits. There are different options out there, so if you are worried about the ability to pay for these prescriptions, the first thing you should realize is there are options out there.

However, with so many programs available; how do you know where to start?

There are a few different types of patient assistance programs out there that can help with medication costs, each of them offering different sources and solutions for those who need prescription assistance.

These include:

  • Programs run by pharmaceutical companies
  • Programs run by the states
  • Programs run at the national level
  • Programs run by non-profit organizations
  • Programs for individuals without prescription medication coverage
  • Drug discount cards

This guide will give you a rundown of what each of these programs entails, how they work and whether or not you are likely to qualify for them.

Patient Assistance Programs Offered By The Pharmaceutical Companies

One of the most common places to turn to when you need help with the rising costs of medication is the pharmaceutical company itself.

PPARx Prescription Assistance Programs

Many pharmaceutical companies will sponsor patient assistance programs (PAPs) or drug-free productions to low-income individuals as a way to help with their existing prescription drug coverage. These programs typically work with those enrolled with Part D benefits. There are also programs for those that are outside of Part D as well.
A great place to start is to visit sites such as RxAssist.org. This is a non-profit organization that has a detailed directory of different drug assistance programs or co-pays out there. There are other non-profit companies out there that can help with assistance programs, but this one is a good option if you are looking to work directly with drug companies.

If you are looking for a specific drug, you can simply type in the name of the medication you have been prescribed and it can highlight the different drug assistance programs available by these pharmaceutical companies.

The actual pharmaceutical companies in charge of manufacturing these drugs, do have some of their own programs in place that can help their customers get assistance with their prescription medications. This is one potential avenue to explore when your financial situation gets in the way of your ability to get your prescriptions.

To qualify for pharmaceutical patient assistance programs, you will need to mail in an application to the drug company in question, detailing information about your financial situation. Most drug companies will have an application available online. You will also need to have your doctor fill-out your application and provide additional information about your current health situations and the prescriptions you need.

Once the drug company reviews your application, they will respond to you and tell you if you are eligible for financial assistance.

If the pharmaceutical company does approve your application, they will ship the drugs directly to your home or to your doctor’s office for your use.

Federal Prescription Programs

The National Council on Aging provides a program known as the Center for Benefits. This program shares information about the different assistance programs available for seniors who fall into the category of “low-income” or young people who have disabilities.

US Prescription Assistance Programs

The Medicare Rights Center is another nationally-run organization that offers country-wide prescription assistance programs. This organization is in charge of programs, drug discount cards, mail order, and online discount pharmacies throughout the country. They even run prescription drug price comparison sites that allow you to look at the side by side cost of different medications.

This federally-run office not only helps those who fall under Medicare Part D plans but for anyone who needs information on how they can pay for prescription medications.

Another organization that you can turn to when you need help is with AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) who recently nationally launched the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s (PhRMA) Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) service. This program offers easy access to different Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). The main goal of this is to help patients in need to get affordable prescription drugs. The organization does this through its network of more than 275 programs, all available through this partnership.

They also have special programs available for children’s medications.

Prescription Assistance Programs Run At the State Level

There are also state-sponsored prescription assistance programs available that can step in and help those in need with their medication costs. About 1/3 of the states out there currently have active pharmaceutical assistance programs available for those living in their state.

While every state governs its program, most of these programs are designed specifically for those who are disabled, elderly or in serious financial need. However, it is essential to note that recent Medicare Part D changes have made drug assistance programs less common than they used to be.

You can also contact your state’s Medicaid office to get more information on different prescription assistance programs and drug discount offerings available in your state. Your state Mental Health America office for more information on various programs that may be unique to your state.

Non-Profit Prescription Assistance Programs

There are several non-profit groups out there who are dedicated to helping those in need to get the prescription assistance they are looking for. Here is an overview of the different non-profit group assistance programs.

The following are a good place to start during your search.

Partnership for Prescription Assistance

This program is a non-profit organization that is sponsored by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s (PhRMA), civic groups, and patient advocacy organizations. This group is dedicated to helping low-income and uninsured patients by providing free or low-cost brand-name prescriptions.

NeedyMeds

This non-profit organization has its own database of information regarding different patient assistance programs that are available. Here, you can learn more about drug discount programs, state assistance and programs that offer free or low-cost medical care.

Their online database is free to use. This is also a powerful resource for those who need assistance in completing the application process and features several guides and tips on how to get through the process.

RxHope

This online resource was designed for those who are struggling to pay for their prescriptions. You can search by medication to find an available assistance program. This is another resource that also has articles and information that can help you through the application process.

Each of these programs is unique and each may be able to provide a different type of assistance during your journey towards finding a more affordable medication.

Programs For Patients Without Prescription Drug Coverage

Individuals who do not have any prescription drug coverage can also access special programs specifically designed with these individuals in mind. These include the following two organizations.

Free Programs For Patients Without Prescription Drug Coverage

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance

This organization is designed specifically for patients who don’t have prescription drug coverage and who are therefore unable to get the medications that they need. While there is a significant amount of paperwork to get through, most qualifying applicants will get their prescription medication for free, or nearly free.

Together Rx Access

Individuals without prescription drug coverage can access hundreds of name-brand and generic products through this platform. Together Rx is designed to help connect patients to affordable medications they can get, without a prescription, as well as resources about available, affordable coverage options that may work for them.

There are other avenues that you can explore as well if you find yourself without prescription drug coverage. Of course, if you are uninsured, you are going to be responsible for the entire cost of the medication, which can be very expensive. However, there are free drug programs available for those without insurance.

You will need to fill out an application to verify your income first, and many times the drug company will actually send the prescriptions directly to your doctor’s office so you can pick them up there.

Co-Pay Assistance Organizations

If you find that you are underinsured but not necessarily uninsured, then you can also turn to co-pay assistance organizations available around the country. These programs will help you even if you have government-sponsored insurance such as Medicaid, Tricare, or Medicare. However, they do require a lengthy application process to make sure you qualify.

In order to take advantage of these programs, you will need to prove your medical and financial need, but if you are approved, the program will help you with some of the out-of-pocket costs associated with your insurance, co-pays, and deductibles for your medication. This is more of a grant program, but one that has helped many people make expensive medications a reality.

Discount Drug Cards

Drug discount cards aren’t available everywhere, and not everyone qualifies for them, but they can help many people save on the cost of their prescription medications. These discount cards are offered in select states, and there are also non-profit organizations and retail pharmacies that have drug discount cards available. They are mostly offered for a low annual price or monthly fee, while some are free.

NeedyMeds is a popular non-profit organization that has its own drug discount cards, as does the AARP. The AARP prescription discount card is one of the most widely used prescription cards out there. As it offers discounts on prescription medications that aren’t covered by Medicare Part D. All you need to do is be an AARP member—and the discount card is free. One of the great things about the AARP card is that it works at more than 64,000 pharmacies across the nation.

1020Rx.com is another option, although the discount card is not free, it does offer a free trial, and additional comprehensive benefits like physician and dental discounts. 

When buying these cards, make sure that you remember, they are not the same thing as health insurance and that you should only turn to a reputable company when purchasing these items.

Many drug manufacturers will offer discount cards or coupon cards, and there are even come loyalty programs available directly through the pharmacy. If you go to get your prescription filled and find that your medication is giving you a bit of sticker shock, ask the pharmacist if there is a coupon or discount card you may be eligible for.  These cards can make a significant impact on the price of your medications and even lower your medication co-pays to as little as a few dollars per month.

The more you are aware of the different possibilities out there when it comes to prescription assistance plans, the better. While figuring out how to afford your medications can seem like a big challenge ahead—the more you explore these options, the better. It is also important to understand that there are a lot of PPA related scams out there, mainly targeted at the elderly. Prescription assistance programs are a great resource for all types of people, but some are trying to gain private information or sell unnecessary services or products to those in need.

Before signing up for a program or discount card, make sure to do your research, or stick to the programs listed above to make sure that you are getting the help you need and not falling victim to a potential scam.