free medication?
March 6, 2006 6:04 PM   Subscribe

I was hit up today by a lady and her young daughter claiming to need $10 to fill an antibiotic prescription for the little girl.

Regardless of whether the story was true or not, had I actually had the $10 on me I probably would have given it to them just because I am such a softie it is ridiculous. However, it made me wonder about the scenario. If the story was true, it seems that there should be some kind of community clinic or public health services in my city(Columbus, OH) to which I could have directed her. If your child needed a prescription and you were completely broke, where could you go to get some free medication on short notice? Is it even possible in this country?
posted by well_balanced to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
posted by evariste at 6:08 PM on March 6, 2006

This is a variation of the "I just need gas money/money for the bus" scam.
posted by evariste at 6:09 PM on March 6, 2006

The maximum co-pay for ADULTS' prescriptions on Ohio's Medicaid program is $3. The state health insurance program for children is called SCHIP. More reading:
As the result of the state budget bill, Am. Sub. H.B. 95, Ohio
Medicaid implemented a co-payment program, effective
January 1, 2004. A $3 co-payment is now charged for
prescription medications that require prior authorization
for individuals 21 years of age and older. This program is
expected to encourage the use of less costly drugs.
posted by evariste at 6:15 PM on March 6, 2006

this is the olded scam in the book.
posted by puke & cry at 6:16 PM on March 6, 2006

Here's a link about programs in the Columbus area.

I would direct her to the Partnership for Prescription Assistance. Of course, that wouldn't help the immediate problem.

And yeah--it was a total scam that I've experienced a few times myself. I can't see a doctor prescribing a sick kid antibiotics and then saying "tough cookies" to a mother who cries that she can't afford to pay for them. (And if the mother had no qualms about asking strangers for money, she would have spoken up to the doc.)

How lovely it would be to live in the EU and never hear that line...
posted by lilybeane at 6:24 PM on March 6, 2006

I've seen this here in Chicago - little girls raising money for their community center or some such. Usually there's an adult collecting any cash they're given sitting in a car somewhere nearby. It's profoundly dispiriting to see kids used in this way. I pointed it out to a cop once, but I don't think it did much.

A friend once helped a mother buy diapers for the child she was carrying. She purchased the most expensive brand she could find, and promptly returned them for the cash.

As a result I rarely give money to anyone on the street. I'll buy food for someone - especially when it's quite cold out and a cup of coffee can be nursed in a warm McDonalds for a long while - but never cash.
posted by aladfar at 6:27 PM on March 6, 2006

Response by poster: Yeah, my main question is not whether or not this is a scam...I assumed that it was. The main question is that assuming you were broke, how would you fill a prescription on short notice?
posted by well_balanced at 6:28 PM on March 6, 2006

I would have spoken to the doctor about it when s/he prescribed it, and if there is any hope left in the world s/he would have known about resources available to help people in that situation...

For less immediate needs, there is a site called

I've heard that frequently people will hang out with/pose with children that aren't theirs in order to garner more sympathy, when making up stories to get money.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:29 PM on March 6, 2006

Okay. While this is quite possibly a scam, it's a myth that there is money for every prescription out there, even an antibiotic that the kid needs. Ohio Medicaid copayment is $3? When I worked with the system there are lots of people who fall through the cracks and don't get on programs. When I was without money I've been prescribed prescriptions by doctors who didn't seem to care whether I could pay.
You want a straight answer to the question, check on the charity clinic in Columbus. They will tell you they leave prescriptions unfilled because they can't afford to help everyone.
If you want to make sure this case is honest, you can put in the money at the drugstore.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:40 PM on March 6, 2006

In past times, whenever I needed meds and was short on money, I'd speak up to it with the doctor. They always would give me a couple of samples--and in several cases gave me the entire perscription.

Barring that, just about any kind of social service agency that caters to homeless or children would help her out in a few minutes, provided she could document her story.

You never know what the next story is. I had some guy once tell me that he needed a fix a flat for his truck--the ones at the convenience store nearby weren't big enough. He said another convenience store a bit further away. So I said I'd walk over with him to get it. Shure enough, after a block or two, he said that he wasn't sure that the other convenience store had it, but another one did--in the opposite direction. Nice try, buddy.

But the guy I met once who sold poems was cool.
posted by lester at 7:01 PM on March 6, 2006

"Hey man I just got back from Chicago, I was in jail and now I'm just trying to get bus fare for the veteran's hospital"
posted by cellphone at 7:22 PM on March 6, 2006

Call me cynical but whenever I see a stranger walk towards me on the street I completely ignore him/her nowadays. 6 years of living in the New York area will do that to you -- you'll literally have heard them all by the end, and a good 95% of the stories are complete bullshit.
posted by clevershark at 7:44 PM on March 6, 2006

More to the point, though -- it was my experience in the US that doctors would give you a number of free samples of medication if you looked like you'd have a hard time paying for it.
posted by clevershark at 7:46 PM on March 6, 2006

One of the best laughs I ever had in the city was walking out of a nightclub at 2am and a homeless guy asking me for $10 so he can buy a martini.
posted by empath at 8:23 PM on March 6, 2006

I live in Canada were the doctor visit is free (yes I understand how I really pay for it please spare me), but the medication is not.

I get migranes, and the most effective migrane medication is something close to $20 a pill and I find I need a few of them to get through an attack. The doctors always asked if I had a drug plan, and gave me samples of the drugs when I had no other way to pay.

They have always been very good about this, the drug companies dump tonnes of them on the doctors - the least they can do is provide them to people who need them.

I give money to charity through my work and also make a few other donations on the side but I rarely make beggar donations, not really because I care that they use the money for booze or glue but more because I don't want to see more and more people make this into a career. I've lived in countries were parents sent children to beg instead of school, and when they ceased to be cute became prostitutes and thieves because they lacked other options.
posted by Deep Dish at 9:05 PM on March 6, 2006

empath: I'd have given it to him. Least he was honest about it. Plus it's just so NY, needing a whole $10 to get a martini.
posted by anjamu at 9:35 PM on March 6, 2006

There used to be a guy who would stand with a sign at the end of an off-ramp I frequently drove through. His sign said, "I won't lie, I'll spend it on booze." I gave him a dollar whenever I could afford to.

My wife has had luck getting prescriptins filled through NORD, but antibiotics for a sniffle wouldn't qualify, I guess.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:46 PM on March 6, 2006

And then there's this guy, who I've seen around the Village before.
posted by anjamu at 10:41 PM on March 6, 2006

posted by armoured-ant at 11:38 PM on March 6, 2006

« Older Postcard Copyrights...   |   Favourite Wordpress plugins? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.