Paying for Your Medications

Explore the links below for more information about prescription and diagnosis-based assistance programs.

What assistance can I get?

There are four types of assistance for which you can apply to receive help with your medication costs. Explore the links below for information about each type of assistance.

  1. Prescription Assistance Program: Pharmaceutical companies provide medications for free or at discounted prices to individuals who qualify.
  2. Diagnosis-based Assistance Program: Organizations provide money to patients to help with disease-related costs. The money provided can be used for different types of disease-related treatment and support, such as medications, transportation, and special equipment. Explore the individual programs to learn more about what that type of assistance covers.
  3. Discount Card: These cards decrease the cost of medications by a pre-determined percentage. The percentage differs depending on the medication, and some medications are not discounted at all.
  4. Coupon, Rebate, or Co-pay Card: Manufacturers provide these cards to help lower the costs of medications. Coupons come in a variety of forms, including printable coupons and free trial offers. Mail-in rebates require patients to pay the medication's full cost first, and be reimbursed at a later date. The co-pay card reduces the co-pay a patient must pay for certain medications. For example, the Lipitor Choice Card allows commercial and privately insured patients to pay as little as $4.00 per 30-day supply.

How can I find assistance?

Ask your prescribing physician. He or she may offer you free samples, or provide you with useful information about how to apply to the assistance programs described above.

You can also check the Internet. A good place to begin your search is the NeedyMeds website. You can also visit the official website of the pharmaceutical company that manufactures your medication or conduct a search using a respected search engine, such as Google or Bing. For example, if you need help paying for Dexilant, you could search for the phrase "dexilant assistance."

Lastly, you can ask your pharmacist. He or she may know of assistance programs related to your specific medications or diagnoses.

Can I receive more than one type of assistance at the same time?

Yes, you can receive assistance from multiple programs as long as you qualify for each type of assistance.

Do I need health insurance? If so, what type of insurance do I need?

Prescription Assistance Programs

Patients have a better chance of receiving prescription assistance if they are uninsured or have private insurance, such as Blue Cross, rather than public insurance, such as Medicaid. There are a few programs that will make exceptions, especially for those who have Medicare Part D.

Diagnosis-based Assistance Programs

It depends on the diagnosis-based assistance program. Check the rules for each program.

Discount Cards

You can use a discount card regardless of the type of insurance you possess. However, you can only use either the discount card or your insurance for each medication. You should do some research to determine whether using the discount card or your insurance will offer the greatest discount on your specific medications.

Coupons, Rebates, or Co-pay Cards

It depends on the coupon, rebate, or co-pay card. If you have Medicare Part D or Medicaid as your insurance, you may not be able to use some coupons, rebates, or co-pay cards.

What information do I need to apply for prescription or diagnosis-based assistance programs?

Typically, individuals will need to provide the patient or legal guardian’s most recent tax return and/or pay stub, the patient’s insurance information, and patient’s social security number.

How long does it take to be approved for assistance after I have applied?

Prescription Assistance Programs

Prescription assistance programs will typically notify individuals of their approval within two to four weeks.

Diagnosis-based Assistance Programs

It depends on the diagnosis-based assistance program. Some can approve applications in minutes, while others can take weeks.

What are two things every patient should know before applying for assistance?

Prescription Assistance Programs

  1. It takes time to apply and receive your medications. Keep in mind that your doctor will most likely have to sign the application, which can require additional time.
  2. Always double check to ensure that you submitted a complete application. Incomplete applications can delay the review process.

Diagnosis-based Assistance Programs

  1. Diagnosis-based assistance programs vary widely. You will need to research each program for specific details.
  2. The NeedyMeds website is an excellent resource for patients looking for additional information about these programs.

Discount Cards

  1. The discounts offered for each medication frequently change. Try to use your discount card for every medication purchase.
  2. Beware of fake drug discount cards. These cards do not provide discounts and some require patients to register, ask for personal information, or track purchases -- information they later sell to third parties.

Coupons, Rebates, or Co-pay Cards

  1. There are a wide variety of coupons, rebates, and co-pay cards, and each can have different rules. Be sure to read the fine print on each coupon, rebate, and co-pay card. The NeedyMeds website provides a good list of these types of assistance programs.
  2. There are two different types of co-pay cards: true and hybrid. True co-pay cards must be used with insurance. They often adhere to special rules and require a physician's approval. Some cards can only be used at certain pharmacies (this is especially true for injections). Hybrid co-pay cards can be used with and without insurance. These are more commonly used than true co-pay cards.