Volume 1, Resources 12: Affordable Prescriptions

Hi friends! It’s resource week! A couple weeks ago I wrote a bunch about therapy from why someone might go to therapy to how to afford therapy if you don’t have an exorbitant amount of money. According to a recent study from Families USA, an estimated 5.4 million people have lost their insurance between February and May this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

This is incredibly fucked up in a large number of ways which I won’t go over right now but I do imagine that for some of the people in this 5.4 million, this is their first time without health insurance. If you are someone, like me, who takes medication on a regular basis, losing your health insurance can have some dire, possibly fatal, results.

There was a time in my life when I had really shitty health insurance or no health insurance at all. One of the medications for my depression & OCD was inexpensive. It had been out for a while, there was already a generic version, and I could get a month’s worth for $4. The other medication, though, was new on the market. It did not yet have a generic version and without it, the first medication I mentioned was kinda useless. I took them together because they work together.

Sometimes I would go to the pharmacy and they were like, “Okay, that’s $50 for a one month supply of this shiny new medication,” which, I was working full-time at a photo lab and part-time as a receptionist at an animal clinic. $50 is a lot, but I made it work.

Other times, because the insurance was shit or because I didn’t have insurance, I’d go to the pharmacy and they were like, “Okay, that will be $398 for a one month supply” and I needed to decide if I get my meds and only eat peanut butter sandwiches for an entire month or if I skip the meds and be able to afford a vegetable while also being miserable.

<image is a meme. In the top panel are two buttons. One button is labeled “Be sane but hungry” and the other button is labeled “Have food and exist in a living nightmare.” The bottom panel is of a man wiping sweat from his brow. He is sweating because he has to make a decision.>

I hate that I had to make that decision and I hate that there are millions of people being forced to make such decisions every day here in the U.S.

Since our healthcare system is a trash fire, I wanted to put a few resources in the newsletter for people who are finding themselves unable to afford prescriptions. These resources don’t necessarily work in every situation, but if they can help even a few people then they are worth sharing. I wish these resources were around when I needed them most but I’m glad they are available for me to share with you now.

These resources are assuming that you have already asked your prescribing doctor for a generic version or about a possible alternate, less costly medication that may work. Also: Try not to wait until you are out of medication to start looking for assistance. Also also, if you are in California and find yourself suddenly without health insurance, I recommend checking out the information for Covered CA, which is having a special enrollment period specifically because of coverage loss due to Covid-19..

Resource: Walmart

I know that some people avoid shopping at Walmart for various reasons (myself included) but for people looking for inexpensive prescription medication, going to Walmart can make such a huge difference. They have a list of medications you can get there (with a prescription) for prices as low as $4 for a month’s supply. This might be the easiest place to start.

Resource: The Pharmaceutical Companies Themselves

Pharmaceutical companies want you to take their medications; it is in their best interest for you to do so. Because of this, many offer assistance programs for their own products. Below I’ve linked to the assistance pages for ten of the most prevalent pharmaceutical companies.

Resource: Medicare, State-specific Assistance, Search Portals, and Coupons

  • Medicare has a Pharmaceutical Assistance Program portal that allows you to search by the drug name to find assistance programs

  • Medicare also has this chart of State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs

  • This Medicine Assistance Tool from the Partnership for Prescription Assistance has you enter the medications you’re looking for and some information about yourself (age, state, household income) and it will return resources if it can find any

  • RXAssist is a directory of assistance programs that claims to be the most up-to-date

  • NeedyMeds is another such portal

  • RXHope allows you to search by brand name, patient assistance program, or pharmaceutical company 

  • RXOutreach identifies as a nonprofit pharmacy

  • GoodRX may have coupons for what you are looking for. Be mindful, the coupons may only work if the medication is full price or some other sorts of stipulations so make sure you read the fine print

Bonus Twitter Thread!

The day after I wrote this issue and scheduled it, I saw this Twitter thread on getting medications as cheaply as possible and I wanted to link it here. If you find it useful, make sure you tip the original Tweeter for their labor!

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That’s it for this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, feel free to subscribe, forward it to a friend, and/or give me a tip!

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