The high cost of medications for cardiovascular disease is one of the most common reasons patients give for not taking their medicine. But when you consider what is at stake—your health and possibly your life—you must find a way to afford them.
Don’t wait to fill your prescriptions until you can afford them. You need them now. If you are already taking medication but are thinking about stopping, skipping, or dividing up your doses to make your medication more affordable, don’t do it until you talk with your doctor. Your doctor and others can help you get the medication you need.
The good news is that you do have options and help available from a variety of sources. Shop around, compare prices, and:
1. Ask for suggestions from your doctor and pharmacist
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 other people in similar situations every day. They can help you, too.
2. Participate in a clinical trial
Ask your doctor if you qualify for any clinical trials for your medication and you may receive it for free. Click here for our article on "Questions to Ask Before Participating in a Clinical Trial."
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 are overwhelmed or confused about that coverage or want to confirm your coverage, call your insurance company. If it does not 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
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 necessarily exactly the same as the original name-brand medication. Ask your doctor if a less expensive generic version of your medication is available or, if 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 at your local drugstore, online, or through consumer groups
This is not 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.
Consider all costs, including shipping and annual fees, before joining and make sure your medications are included.
9. Find a reputable online pharmacy
Sometimes you can save money by ordering your medications from online pharmacies or from 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 that are licensed to ship medications to your state.
The FDA also offers some guidance in its Guide to Buying Prescription Medicine Online
10. Seek assistance from Medicare, Medicaid, federal and state healthcare programs, or other 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 assistant programs offered by state and local governments and pharmaceutical companies.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance offers a database tool that will help you sift through nearly 500 public and private programs.
Other Resources for Affording Your Medications
Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs
Coupons Databases and Discount Drug Programs
Patient Assistance Programs
- Co-Pay Relief
Co-pay 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
Assistance with medical debt crisis, insurance access, and job retention
- Needy Meds
Free information on assistance programs for low income patients, including a coupon database, list of low cost clinics by state, and programs for children
- Health Assistance Partnership
Assistance in finding federal, state, and local assistance programs through each state’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program