Over 50 million Americans do not have health insurance coverage, with an even more significant percentage accessible only to limited insurance packages. Many people are forced to choose between getting their prescriptions filled and paying for important utilities such as food and rent.
In many cases, people resort to buying affordable over the counter alternatives or foregoing their prescription altogether. Without proper consultation and recommendation by a physician, both alternatives can potentially be fatal for the patient.
Many drug manufacturers have developed patient assistance programs to help counteract the inability of patients to afford their medication. While the prescription assistance programs represent some corporate social responsibility for manufacturers, as well as a marketing tool, they help millions of people access prescription medication worth billions.
How do PAPs work?
Even though the programs are unique to each provider, they all target the reduction of prescription costs. Companies may establish their own guidelines regarding eligibility, such as by developing their own financial requirements, choosing the specific drugs available for the programs and determining the length of time that successful applicants may receive assistance.
Most PAPs require that patients seeking assistance fill in an application form with their identification details, medical history, and financial information. Some may vary on the amount of detail that is required, with certain programs needing the only authentication from your doctor.
Once your application has been made, the pharmaceutical company will consider your eligibility and determine whether or not to offer assistance. For many programs, this might take only a few hours. If successful, you will be contacted in regards to how to collect your medication.
Most PAPs send your medication to your doctor for redistribution. Some programs may send your medication to your pharmacy of choice, from which you will be able to access the lower-cost drugs. A few may send the patient a certificate, which they then forward to their pharmacy. While many programs offer refills for chronic diseases, patients may be forced to reapply for re-evaluation for a few PAPs.
Tips for applying for PAPs
The biggest problem patients face when making their application is lack of cooperation by their doctor. This may range from refusal to complete their required segments to charging patients a fee for the service. Here are some tips to help you get your application ready.
You should fill in all parts of the form that you may be required to. To make it easier for your doctor, you could fill in bits of information that they may need to, but which does not count as sensitive. This could include their name, address and contact information, leaving only the necessary fields. Before asking your doctor to fill in the application, you should attach and corroborate every required document.
Since the doctor might have a busy schedule, allow them some time before following up with the matter. They may need to do it at their convenience and may be unable to do so immediately. If your doctor refuses to fill in the form, you could inform them of your inability to access the prescription.