Help for People Unable to Pay for Their Prescriptions

Your pharmacist might know how you can get free or low-cost medications.

Your pharmacist might know how you can get free or low-cost medications.

Pharmaceutical companies might spend hundreds of millions of dollars over a 15-year period just to bring a single new prescription drug to market, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. While prescription medications might work wonders, they don't come cheap, and millions of Americans have trouble paying for their prescriptions, according to the RxAssist Patient Assistance Program Center. Fortunately, help is available for those who can't afford their prescriptions.

Community Health Centers

County health departments and community health centers provide health care services to local residents. Costs for these services, including available prescription medications, are typically figured on a sliding scale based on income, according to the RxAssist Patient Assistance Program Center.

Free Clinics

Approximately 1,200 free clinics in the United States provide health care services, including prescription medication assistance, to low-income individuals and families on a free or low-cost basis. Free clinics are not affiliated with any government entity. They are private, nonprofit, community-based organizations that are staffed by volunteer health care professionals and other health care providers, according to the North Carolina Association of Free Clinics.

Prescription Assistance Program

Patients who are uninsured or under-insured and cannot afford their prescription medications might find help through a patient assistance program, sometimes referred to as a prescription assistance program. There are more than 475 prescription assistance programs in the United States, according to the Partnership for Assistance. More than 40 percent of these PAPs are run by pharmaceutical companies. Each program is unique, so it is important to find the one that best fits the patient's needs.

Medicare, Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program

Individuals over age 65 are eligible to participate in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. Health care assistance is also available to uninsured and financially struggling individuals under age 65 through such government-backed programs as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. These programs typically are funded by a combination of state and federal resources.

About the Author

Mike Parker is a full-time writer, publisher and independent businessman. His background includes a career as an investments broker with such NYSE member firms as Edward Jones & Company, AG Edwards & Sons and Dean Witter. He helped launch DiscoverCard as one of the company's first merchant sales reps.

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