The costs of filling prescriptions is simply too big to bear for many people, even now that the Affordable Care Act has greatly reduced the amount of people who are uninsured. A survey from the Commonwealth Fund found that 35 million people in America failed to fill a prescription in 2014 because of the cost of the medication. That figure represents an improvement from 2010, when 48 million people did not fill their prescriptions due to the costs of those medications, but it still serves to highlight a need many people have to cut the costs of their medicine.
Though people who cannot afford to fill their prescriptions often feel helpless, there are a handful of ways they can cut the costs of their medications and start feeling better.
• Discuss changes with your physician. Perhaps the simplest way to cut prescription costs is to discuss medication options with your physician. Brand-name drugs are typically more expensive than generic alternatives, so speak with your physician about generic drugs or less costly brand-name drugs that may treat your condition as well as expensive brand-name drugs do.
• Consider Patient Assistance Programs. Sometimes referred to as "Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs," Patient Assistance Programs, or PAPs, can greatly reduce the burden of prescription drug costs. Sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, PAPs distribute billions of dollars to patients who otherwise could not afford their medications. Eligibility criteria varies depending on the program, but men and women struggling to pay for their prescriptions can speak with their physicians about PAPs.
• Consult your member organizations. If you are a member of the AAA automotive group or the American Association of Retired Persons, you might be eligible for medication discount cards free of charge. These cards provide discounts on your medications, but some come with expensive fees upfront. Look for no-fee cards, such as those offered to AAA and AARP members or others offered by nonprofit organizations, before considering options offered by pharmaceutical companies or other for-profit businesses.
• Contact charitable organizations. Some charitable organizations, such as the National Organization for Rare Disorders and maybe even some local nonprofits, offer prescription assistance to people in need. Visit NORD online at www.rarediseases.org.