Help With Paying for Prescriptions
ADA and Together Rx Access team up to reduce the cost of medications
People with diabetes, who may be taking insulin, oral drugs, and medications for other conditions, average more than twice as much in health care expenses as people who don't have the disease. Sometimes they're forced to choose between their medications and other necessities like groceries or utility bills. And for nearly 51 million Americans who lack health insurance, paying for prescription medications can be difficult or even impossible.
That's why Together Rx Access and the American Diabetes Association have teamed up this year to make it easier for people with diabetes to get the medications they need. Together Rx Access is a prescription assistance program that offers discounts to qualifying individuals who don't have prescription drug coverage and aren't eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. Nearly 20 pharmaceutical companies sponsor Together Rx Access and make their products available at a lower price. So far, insulin manufacturers do not participate, but some of the companies that sell blood glucose meters, test strips, and type 2 medications do. (A list of available brand-name drugs is available here.) The program also includes virtually all generic drugs, says Amy Niles, chair of medical relations and advocacy for Together Rx Access.
Most people save 25 to 40 percent on their medications with their free Together Rx Access membership card, Niles says. Altogether, the nearly 2.5 million cardholders have saved more than $115 million on their prescriptions since the program began six years ago. Medications for diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis, and depression are the biggest sellers through the program.
Together Rx Access is collaborating with ADA to offer information about the program to more people with diabetes. Beginning this year, ADA is spreading the word through its Center for Information and Community Support at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383), as well as through printed materials, its website, and local ADA offices. "Given our very tough economic times, the need is greater than ever," says Roba Whiteley, executive director of Together Rx Access. "We really want to work with others like ADA to reach the most people we can."
To qualify for Together Rx Access, your income must be no more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level—that's about $45,000 a year for an individual or $90,000 for a family of four. Together Rx Access estimates that nearly 90 percent of the nation's uninsured are eligible to sign up. "When you look at this [group], about 85 percent of that uninsured population are working—many are working two jobs, taking care of families, caring for elderly parents," says Whiteley. And because they're pressed for time and money, such people are also more likely to neglect their own health. Managing a chronic disease like diabetes is work enough, "but you're also stretched to the max cooking healthy meals, taking a walk, and getting the stress-reducing down time that everyone needs," Whiteley says. Together Rx Access tries to make enrollment easy: You can use your identification number to save on prescriptions immediately after signing up online or by phone, and you never have to reenroll in the program. Together Rx Access doesn't ask for documentation, either—no pay stubs and no W2s, says Niles.
Diabetes affects nearly 24 million Americans, and managing it well usually requires blood glucose monitoring, regular doctor visits, and medication—none of which come free of charge. The total cost of diabetes in the United States was $174 billion in 2007, the latest data available, with medications and supplies accounting for 12 percent of that cost, or about $21 billion. It's worth exploring any options that offer relief.
Here are sources of help in paying for medications and devices:
• Partnership for Prescription Assistance: Matches you with prescription drug assistance programs that you may qualify for.
• Co-Pay Relief
Helps you find government
benefits and programs.
www.cms.gov (or call your
state health department)
• Temporary Assistance for
Call your state health department.