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Speak Up When Struggling to Pay For Medications

10.10.2007South Florida Sun-Sentinel

by: Daniel Vasquez

A growing number of people with health care coverage are struggling to afford co-payments for prescribed medications.

That’s why consumer experts strongly recommend that patients talk openly with doctors about the drugs being prescribed and options available to pay for them. And never be embarrassed to let your doctor know if you can’t pay for what he’s recommending.

Loved ones have a role here too. If you suspect a family member is in a financial bind to cover medical costs, make sure they follow the above tips and help them find the right help. It may be a tough subject to broach, but sky-rocketing costs for health care coverage and medications make it worth the trouble.

The good news is often cheaper generic brand medications can be substituted, or a doctor may know of programs that offer discounted medications.

There’s also a small but growing community of non-profit, co-payment foundations cropping up that offer financial assistance for low-income and no-income patients and for those who are being treated for funded diseases, including certain cancers, arthritis and severe asthma.

One of the more successful groups, the HealthWell Foundation, is helping to educate consumers as part of the activities surrounding “Talk About Prescriptions Month.” October’s health observance is sponsored by the National Council on Patient Information and Education. Hokey calendar promotion aside, the message behind it is important.

And it’s worth mentioning that groups like HealthWell back up their talk with money. The HealthWell Foundation provides co-payment and premium payment assistance to eligible individuals. To find out about eligibility, check out the foundation’s Web site FAQs page or call 1-800-675-8416.

And don’t forget to shop around. A friend recently found that a medication he needed cost $51 at one major store’s pharmacy but was available at Wal-Mart for $4.