Help With Your Medications - FamilyHealthSpecialist.com

Help With Your Medications - FamilyHealthSpecialist.com

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The cost of medication has become a major obstacle for my patients; not just those without insurance, but for nearly all.  This section is intended to help you navigate the prescription maze, and to help you get help with the cost of your medicine.  This is especially true if you are living on a fixed income.  Below, you will find some tips about how to reduce your costs, and also, how to get help if you need financial assistance.Tips for Reducing Your Medication CostsThere are a number of ways to reduce your expenditures for medication.  If you do not have any insurance, there are many useful medications available at Wal-Mart under their $4 plan.  You can find a listing of their low cost medications on their website.  Some commercial pharmacies have matched the Wal-Mart four dollar program.  You can also buy a 90 day supply of many of these medications for $10.  If you know you are going to be on the medication long term, buying your medication this way makes sense.  Also, do not be shy about getting a price quote on your medication.  Call two or three pharmacies and shop the price.Another way to avoid expensive medication is to realize that if a medication is being advertised on television, it is going to be expensive.  Even if your insurance covers it, your copay will be higher.  It is true that some of these medications are truly unique and do not have a generic equivalent, but some offer no real advantage over less expensive and well know alternatives.It is important to understand your prescription plan.  If you have insurance that covers your medication, the insurance has a formulary list.  A formulary lists the medications that your insurance will cover.  If a medication is not on that list, it is going to be costly to you.  Also, medications are grouped into various tiers, or cost levels.  Very expensive branded drugs will have very high copays, while less expensive generics will have the lowest copay for you.  It is very important for you to keep a copy of your formulary, and very helpful to bring it with you to office visits.  Does your doctor have access to your formulary?  Probably not.  Taking the time to make your formulary available to your doctor at your visit will save you money and inconvenience.But aren''t the Brand name drugs always better?  In certain cases yet, but you should be aware that the pharmaceutical companies are re-introducing old, common medications with new formulations that cost far more than the old generic drug, and they can be very expensive.  Rarely do they offer a true advantage.  Fortunes have been made on old standbys that were reformulated.  You will recognize some of these, including doxycycline (for acne), citalopram (for depression), certirazine (for allergies), and diclofenac (for pain and arthritis).  The slick advertising will make you think that the "new" drug is some kind of breakthrough, but it is really more of a case of smoke and mirrors.One more way to save money...say no thanks.  If you arrive at the pharmacy and the cost is unreasonable, decline the medication.  You need to be ready to do this at the counter...if you leave the store with the medication, the pharmacy will not allow you to return it, even if you haven''t touched it.  Do not be embarrassed to do this, and do not hesitate to call your doctor and ask if there is a reasonable alternative.  I do not mind, and most other doctors do not mind either.  We understand that the only medication that will help you is one that you can afford to buy.  I am very mindful of drug costs when I am prescribing, but even so, sometimes the cost of a well know generic will suddenly skyrocket.Please rest assured, your doctor is unlikely to be in collusion with the drug company.  We see the sales representatives because they do have information that is useful to clinicians in the care of their patients.  We do not profit from writing prescriptions except from the fees that you, the patient, pay directly to us.  And that brings us to another potential pitfall...medication samples.  The sales representatives will leave samples of their medications for patients to try.  There can be really good reasons to start a patient on samples first, but do keep in mind, that samples are not always available, an when the drug becomes successful, the samples will stop.  Then you will have to purchase the medication yourself, and it will likely be far more expensive than you would expect.Having Trouble Paying for Your Medication?

Help is available if you cannot afford your medication. Nearly all the programs for medication assistance are available through www.needymeds.org. Most of the programs are needs based. The income thresholds may be better than you would guess. Another program can be found at RxOutreach.org. If you do not have internet access, call 1-888-796-1234. Income thresholds for RxOutreach range from $34,470 if you are single up to $70,650 for a family of four.I hope this information is useful to you and will help you reduce your expenditures on medication.  Never hesitate to have a discussion about medication cost with your doctor; we are well aware of what is going on in the marketplace, and we want to help protect you from the financial harms you might encounter.

About my web site...If you have a question about the website, my practice, or a request, email me at doctorV@familyhealthspecialist.com. You can also email me about any concerns you have regarding our practice (for example scheduling concerns, complaints or suggestions for our practice.)  For security reasons,  I regret that I cannot respond to specific questions about your health; please make an appointment or call the office (251) 625-8211.

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