January is right around the corner. Whether or not you stay up to mark the new year, an expensive reality hits many Americans on Jan. 1: medical insurance deductibles reset to zero and out-of-pocket costs go up.
Along with co-pays and coinsurance, those out-of-pocket costs can put essential medications out of reach. Many people are forced to choose between paying bills, their medications, and putting food on the table. It’s no wonder Gallup polls consistently find healthcare costs to be one of this country’s greatest worries.
But there are ways to cut those high out-of-pocket costs. The Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation, a national charity that provides financial assistance to help people pay for their prescription medications, offers these tips for reducing your out-of-pocket costs for the lifesaving medications you need.
Talk to your healthcare team. Be honest with your doctor and pharmacist about the challenge of affording your medications. It may be difficult for you to talk about your finances, but remember, your healthcare team is on your side. Let them know what you can afford and they may be able to tailor a treatment plan that fits within your budget.
Look into ‘Extra Help.’ Medicare beneficiaries may qualify for programs like, Extra Help, also known as the Low-Income Subsidy program. This program can significantly reduce your prescription costs.
Ask for generics. Many name-brand drugs now have generic equivalents, especially if the drugs you’re taking have been on the market for a while. Generics are significantly cheaper than their name-brand versions. And don’t worry. Generics are run through the same safety and efficacy tests by the FDA to ensure their quality and effectiveness.
Sign up for FundFinder. FundFinder is a free web-based app developed by the PAN Foundation that connects you with a charitable patient assistance foundation that could help pay the out-of-pocket costs for your prescription medications. Rather than having to monitor multiple foundations to see if they’re offering funding, FundFinder checks for you and alerts you through email or text when the financial help that you need is available at PAN or another charitable foundation.
Shop around. You’d be surprised how much drug costs can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. Make a few calls to make sure you’re not paying more than you have to for the medications you need. And ask about discounts and coupons, like the NeedyMeds discount card, which could help you save up to 80% off prescription drug prices.
Check your state’s assistance programs. Many states have assistance programs for residents who are having trouble paying for their medications. The first place to start is with your state’s department of health. They can tell you about the programs that are available and whether you qualify. They also may have information about other programs in your area that are designed to help people afford their medication.
Looking ahead to the new year should be full of hope, not worries about affording prescription medications. You can learn more about patient assistance charities like PAN and the ways you can get help paying for your prescription medical treatments at panfoundation.org.