“I need help paying for my prescriptions. I heard an ad on
the radio for a number to call to see if you qualify for free prescriptions.
When I called, they said I was eligible, but I had to pay a pretty big fee. Is
this a scam?”
Emails, ads, and websites for companies that guarantee free
or low-cost prescription drugs for a hefty fee upfront are scams. You are
paying for information and applications that are available for free. And even
if the company applies to legitimate programs on your behalf, you still may be
turned down for the prescription assistance program.
Some marketers are using spam e-mail and the Web to offer
information on free or low-cost prescription drug programs for a fee. Steer
clear of any company that charges for information on free or low-cost
prescription drug programs.
While it is true that many prescription drug companies offer
free or low-cost drugs for people who do not have prescription drug coverage,
cannot afford to pay for medication out of pocket, or have exhausted their
insurance’s annual allowance, the programs have strict qualification standards.
Factors that affect whether you qualify may include your income and the cost of
the drugs you need.
If you are trying to get free or low-cost prescription
drugs, you do not have to pay for information on how to do it. You just have to
know where to look. The information is free – and publicly available – from
your physician, pharmacists, and the government.
Prescription assistance programs, or PAPs, enable people who
cannot afford to pay for their medications to get them for free or a reduced
price. Typically, the programs are sponsored by prescription drug companies or
your state. Your financial situation, the cost of the drugs, and whether you
have other prescription drug coverage help determine whether you qualify for a
prescription assistance program.
If you think you may be eligible for free or low-cost
prescription drugs, you do not have to pay to find out. Ask your physician or
pharmacist, or visit one of the websites on this page.
For example, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance
(PPA) helps consumers find prescription drug coverage. After you enter the
prescription medicines you take and answer several questions about your
prescription and financial situation, the site directs you to programs you may
be eligible for. You can apply online, or you can ask your health care provider
to do it for you. Either way, health care providers usually need to approve
If you need information on free or low-cost providers and
clinics in your area, visit the federal Health Resources and Services
Administration or use PPA’s Free Clinic Finder.
While all Medicare patients can search for Medicare Part D
plans on the internet, those who may qualify for extra help can find more
information from the Social Security Administration.
To find a PAP contact:
Partnership for Prescription Assistance
A free clinic finder is available on their website.
Medicare beneficiaries contact:
Social Security Administration
[TTY: (800) 325-0778]
To find a free or low-cost clinic contact:
Health Resources and Services Administration
[TTY: (877) 489-4772]
(Information taken from a Federal Trade Commission pamphlet: Who Cares: Sources of Information About Health Care Products and Services)