10 Strategies to Help You Afford Medications

The high cost of medications for cardiovascular disease (CVD) burdens many patients. This can create tough choices that may greatly affect your health or even put your life at risk.

The good news is that you have options and help available from various sources. Shop around, compare prices, and consider the following:

1. Ask your doctor and pharmacist for suggestions

Unfortunately, you may not know how much a medication costs until you leave the doctor’s office and go to the pharmacy. If you learn that a medication will be too expensive, don’t just skip it. There’s no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed about admitting to your doctor or pharmacist that you can’t afford your medication—they help others in similar situations every day and can help you, too. Contact your doctor or have the pharmacist call your doctor before you leave the pharmacy. If you’re already taking medication but are thinking about stopping, skipping, or dividing your doses to make it more affordable, don’t do it until you talk with your doctor. Your doctor and others can help you get the medication you need.

2. Participate in a clinical trial

Ask your doctor if you qualify for any clinical trials for your medication, and you may receive it at a discounted cost or even for free.

3. Ask your doctor for free samples

You can save money, and it’s a great way to check for side effects before you buy a big supply.

4. Check your insurance coverage

If you have private health insurance with prescription drug coverage, Medicare Part D, or supplemental insurance, all or part of the cost of your medication may be covered. If you’re overwhelmed or confused about that coverage or want to confirm your coverage, call your insurance company. If it doesn’t cover all of the cost, you may be able to cover all or some of what remains with discount or assistance programs.

5. Ask your pharmacist about senior discounts

Discounts are often provided to seniors for certain medications. Be sure to check with your pharmacist to see if discounts are available for any medications currently prescribed to you.

6. Consider generic drugs

After a pharmaceutical company’s patent runs out on a new medication, other companies can produce the same drug under a different name, often at much greater savings to the patient. These generic drugs are similar but not identical to the original name-brand medication. Ask your doctor if a less-expensive generic version of your medication is available. If you find a less-expensive solution on your own or through your pharmacist, check with your doctor before making the change.

7. Find a company that offers discounts

Sometimes, insurance and pharmaceutical companies offer discounts for patients with certain conditions and low or limited income. Check the eligibility requirements carefully. You may not be eligible if you already receive benefits from Medicare, Medicaid, or other federal or state healthcare programs.

8. Join a prescription savings club

Consider joining a prescription savings club at your local drugstore, online, or through consumer groups. This isn’t insurance, but it can be a way to save on your medications. If you join one at your local drugstore, you might also receive discounts on flu shots and medications for your pet. Visit these retailers online, and you may find helpful information about your medications and cost-comparison tools.

Before joining, consider all costs, including shipping and annual fees, and ensure your medications are included.

9. Find a reputable online pharmacy

Sometimes, you can save money by ordering your medications from online pharmacies or other countries, but shipping costs may eliminate your savings, and you must be very careful. Check to make sure that you’re dealing with a reputable pharmacy. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) offers an online database of accredited pharmacies licensed to ship medications to your state. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its BeSafeRx campaign guide how to safely buy medicines from an online pharmacy.

10. Seek out patient assistance programs

If you have limited or no prescription drug coverage from private or public sources and are willing to provide proof of your limited income and citizenship, you may qualify for patient assistance programs offered by state and local governments and pharmaceutical companies. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) developed a Medicine Assistance Tool (MAT) to help you sift through a large database of public and private programs.

Additional resources

  • Consumer Reports:
  • Coupons Databases and Discount Drug Programs:
  • Patient Assistance Programs:
    • Co-Pay Relief – Copay assistance for patients with certain medical conditions
    • Rx Assist – Database of patient assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies that provides co-pay assistance for patients with certain medical conditions
    • Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) – Assistance with the medical debt crisis, insurance access, and job retention
    • NeedyMeds – Free information on assistance programs for low-income patients, including a coupon database, a list of low-cost clinics by state, and programs for children
    • Administration for Community Living – Assistance in finding federal, state, and local assistance programs through each state’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)