What to Do When You Can't Afford Your Meds
Ask any patient with a chronic illness about their medications and most of them will tell you that they are difficult to afford. Some patients can’t afford their medications at all and will go without. It is a shame that so many patients out there cannot get the medications they need.
The high price of medications for IBD
Patients with conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are often put on biologics. These are administered by injection via pre-filled syringes or pre-filled injector pens, or by intravenous infusion. Biologics are medications that must be given on a regular basis or risk flaring. Another risk that is a big concern among patients and doctors is that many biologics cannot suddenly be stopped or else their bodies will build up a defense against the medication thereby inhibiting it’s ability to do its job. The prices of these drugs makes it difficult for patients to receive their medication in a timely manner.
Price was one of my biggest concerns when it was time for me to try a more aggressive treatment for ulcerative colitis. There were others, but the price was on the top of my list. Thankfully, I had a great nurse who was willing to point me in the right direction by telling me about patient assistance programs.
What is a patient assistance program?
Patient assistance programs are run by pharmaceutical companies, non-profit groups, or even state governments. They provide much-needed medications to patients who cannot otherwise afford it for a fraction of the cost. Some patients even qualify to get their medications for free!
How does one go about signing up for one of these programs? First, contact the maker of the drug directly. You can do this several ways. Go to their website and search for their patient assistance programs, email them, call them or write to them via snail mail.
You can also check with your state government and see what assistance programs they offer. Programs will obviously vary by state and people who generally qualify are the elderly, disabled persons or those who are in financial need. Some of these programs may also work with Medicare plans. To find these plans, do a quick online search of your state’s assistance programs.
There are even some non-profit groups that have patient assistance programs. These help low-income or uninsured patients get their medications free or at a lower cost. Several of these non-profit organizations exist, but you must do your research and make sure that you find one that is reputable. You don’t want to end up getting scammed, after all!
Drug discount cards
Another way for you to get help are drug discount cards. These are programs also run by state governments, non-profit organizations and even retail pharmacies. You’ll also want to do your research with drug discount cards as well and find some approved by the AARP. Scammers out there will sell fake cards and many patients end up duped into it by desperation. Don’t be one of those people.
If you are overwhelmed by the cost of your medications, you might consider contacting a social worker. They have experience in helping people manage their medical affairs by helping them figure out their finances, find patient assistance programs and can even help you fill out any paperwork that you may have trouble with.
I wish more patients knew that there are so many options out there for them and they don’t have to go through all of this alone. Help is out there if you know where to look.
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