Help me get my Prozac without breaking the bank!
October 27, 2009 7:47 PM   Subscribe

I don't currently have health insurance. I need back on the antidepressant I was on in college. What are my best options?

Generic Prozac is $4/mo or $10/3mo at Walmart. But what's the cheapest way for me to get the prescription? I live in a small town in NE Ohio, if it's relevant.

I know places I could get it online for like $30/mo, but do I have some hope of being able to find someone who, for like $100-$200, could give me a prescription with say a year's worth of refills? Is that a reasonable thing? I have no idea how this works out in the real world now, the health center in college wanted me to come back in every three months but there was also no charge to see the nurse practitioner so that posed no problem. Now, I don't know how much seeing a regular doctor costs, or how long they'll be willing to prescribe me for each visit.

So I don't walk into this with unreasonable expectations, what should I be doing to make this as painless as possible, and how much can I reasonably expect this to cost me?
posted by larkspur to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"Sliding scale" is the term you're looking for. Call up a doctor's office and ask them if they have sliding scale rates because you don't have health insurance. They may cut you a deal on the appointment fee because of that.

However, I don't believe any doctor could in good conscience give someone a full year prescription of a powerful psychotropic drug without having you come back for a checkup and to see how your dosage is working out.
posted by sharkfu at 8:07 PM on October 27, 2009

If you are lucky, there will be an Ohio Free Clinic decently near you. Often free clinics have sort of a triage approach to wellness, but if you've been on a medication that has worked for you and you're currently doing okay, it may be possible to walk in and walk out with a prescription or at least a referral to someone who you can afford. Generally these clinics are staffed by doctors and nurses who also work locally at hospitals and medical offices and volunteer their time to help people who need helping. If there isn't one near you, the usual googleable terms are wellness centers or sliding scale clinics. I used to go to one in Seattle when I just needed birth control pills refilled and often I could walk out of an appointment either without paying anything [when I was really broke] or paying in the range of $20-40. That was a while ago, but I think there are still often low cost options. Good luck and good on your for being proactive about your mental heath.
posted by jessamyn at 8:07 PM on October 27, 2009

sharkfu: "However, I don't believe any doctor could in good conscience give someone a full year prescription of a powerful psychotropic drug without having you come back for a checkup and to see how your dosage is working out."

At my clinic the max time between appointments is 6 months, but that is after the patient is stable and doing well. Starting out they are probably going to want to see you more often, perhaps after a month and then 3 months.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:21 PM on October 27, 2009

Listen to the posters above--Please find a free or sliding scale clinic where a doctor will write you a legal prescription. Please do not attempt to get a prescription online unless someone you know and trust can assure you the pharmacist and pharmacy is legit. Unfortunately, online pharmacies are notoriously shady and appear to have gotten worse in recent years [someone I care about recently paid hundreds of dollars for fake chalk medicine from “Denmark” (actually China), and then had their credit card number hijacked to boot. AVOID.]
posted by applemeat at 8:39 PM on October 27, 2009

While I don't disagree with what everyone is saying about being cautious, I will say that if you a) are familiar with the drug you're seeking and experienced with the dosage you're after, and b) you can get a referral to a reputable online pharmacy from someone you know (or MeFi), filing for an online prescription isn't a bad way to go. The "personal referal" part is really important, but when I've been broke and uninsured it's bailed me out a few times.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:02 PM on October 27, 2009

You might not even need sliding scale. My (totally wonderful) doctor will see people without insurance for $40/visit, has always given us plentiful samples of medication, and is an all-around good guy. He -- and most reputable doctors -- will ask that you come back after a few months to evaluate the dosage, but even two visits fall under the $100-$200 range you mentioned.

If you happen to be in the Akron area, memail me and I'll pass along the doc's name and contact info.

If you're in the Lorain area, try to get in at the Nord Center. If you're in Cleveland, call The Free Clinic. I've been to both at various times, and gotten respectful, appropriate treatment on a sliding scale. You might have to wait a week or two, but they're pretty good about getting people in.

If you end up going the online-ordering route, I would suggest Inhouse Pharmacy--we've ordered from there doing a lapse in insurance and had good experiences.

Best of luck. Again, if there's anything you think I might be able to help with, don't hesitate to drop me a line.
posted by MeghanC at 10:01 PM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh! I meant to add: If you're in Akron, try Portage Path for reduced-cost care. I've not been there myself, but have several friends who have been and speak favorably of the place.
posted by MeghanC at 10:49 PM on October 27, 2009

I am seconding Inhouse Pharmacy. I currently get medicine from them and circumvent the insurance mess in doing so. I have had good experiences with them in the 5 months or so I have used them.
posted by jnnla at 10:59 PM on October 27, 2009

Another Inhouse Pharmacy customer happily satisfied for several years.
posted by anadem at 3:31 AM on October 28, 2009

Thirding Inhouse Pharmacy -- they can't (or won't) be able to stock some of the more uncommon stuff (Trileptal), but they've been extremely responsive and always deliver my stuff on time. I would gladly recommend them.
posted by jpolchlopek at 6:37 AM on October 28, 2009

There are a few places listed here that I'm relatively near so I'm making some calls around now and hopefully I'll be able to find somewhere decent. It's good to know there are reasonable backup plans, too.

The trouble with this sliding scale business is that I am not, strictly speaking, impoverished. I just have a lot of debt and my income right now is irregular. But we'll see how it works out! Thanks to everybody.
posted by larkspur at 9:07 AM on October 28, 2009

Try applying for Patient Assistance Programs once you get your prescription. It's a tax writeoff for the company, as I understand it, and it's free for you. The doctor has to do a little paperwork, but it's almost no hassle. Proof of income and assets is all you need, and you can stress that your income is irregular and you have a ton of debt. has a really great listing of PAPs.
posted by saveyoursanity at 11:08 AM on October 28, 2009

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