How can we afford these prescriptions?
December 14, 2007 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Prescription medication for uninsured.

My wife is uninsured, but recently decided that she needs to resume therapy for her bipolar(this is a good thing). Also good is that she's felt vast improvements in the past few months since starting her therapy. The bad thing is that, being uninsured, the medication is very costly for us. She's a full time student and I make barely enough to support us as it is.

I've looked into insurance, and can't find any decent individual plans that wouldn't cost us more than the medication itself.

Does anyone have experience with those prescription discount cards, or any other ideas? She's paying about $160/month for prescriptions right now. I know there are much more costly medications out there, but when you're already spread thin, it's hard to find that money. Going into (more) debt is something we'd like to avoid, since we're already struggling.
posted by owtytrof to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
walmart has a list of prescription medications that you can get for $4, without insurance. they are evil but…$4…
posted by violetk at 5:57 PM on December 14, 2007

I hate to pimp Wal-Mart, but is there a chance that the medication that your wife needs is on their $4 formulary?
posted by brain cloud at 5:57 PM on December 14, 2007

totally, brain cloud.

oh, also, owtytrof, a lot of the medications on the list are generics so you should check if you can get a generic of the medication she was prescribed if it's a brand name.
posted by violetk at 5:59 PM on December 14, 2007

Thanks for the input. I should have mentioned that the $160/month cost is at Wal-Mart. The lithium is on the $4 list, and for that we're certainly thankful. It's the Cymbalta that's killing us.
posted by owtytrof at 6:08 PM on December 14, 2007

Do your wife have any health insurance? If not, you should really try to get her signed up - if she gets sick, you are really going to be in trouble. My husband had appendicitus on our honeymoon during the 3 months between graduation and starting his new job. Fortunately my father had taken out a high deductible plan to cover both of us. Since then I have been a big believer in never going without health insurance. I can tell you that as of last month an emergency appendectomy in San Jose, CA. produced a bill started at $15,000, which dropped to $10,000 after the negotiated insurance adjustment. Our plan covered all but $50 but you can find cheaper plans where you have to pay a higher deductible. If she is a student, there should be some kind of health insurance availle from her school or the school might belong to a larger group that offers coverage. I know our local community college is part of such a group.

My point is that getting the insurance doesn't just pay for the meds, it is also insurance against a catastrophic bill if there is unexpected emergency.

Of course, there is still the problem of coverage for pre-existing conditions - you would need to be clear what the rules are for her medications - it might take 6 months to kick in. By the way that's another reason not go without insurance, more and more plans waive the pre-existing exemption if you had continuous health insurance from a different company.

I know this doesn't really answer your question but strongly you urge you look again for group health plans as well as individual ones for your wife.
posted by metahawk at 6:08 PM on December 14, 2007

Here is a sort of clearinghouse for the pharmaceutical sponsored patient assistance program. (Of course, if they didn't spend so much in advertising, they wouldn't need to give away their meds for free, but... that another discussion). Cymbalta is on the list.
posted by wg at 6:11 PM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

This may not be less expensive, or may be ... it's an offshore pharmacy which has been reliable in my personal experience over a couple of years. (In fact I put in another order today.)
posted by anadem at 6:18 PM on December 14, 2007

Do what wg suggests. Back when I needed meds and no longer had insurance, that is what I did.

Congrats to your wife for getting treatment!
posted by konolia at 6:18 PM on December 14, 2007

Does your wife not have access to any health plans/health services through her school?
posted by that girl at 6:20 PM on December 14, 2007

I get my drugs from Algodones Mexico. There are many pharmacies there that will ship America and they are way way cheap.
posted by yodelingisfun at 6:31 PM on December 14, 2007

Is the doctor aware that medication cost is an issue for you? Cymbalta's newish, some docs might prescribe it because it's new and (possibly) highly promoted. If Cymbalta's the only thing that works for her, that's one thing, but if she hasn't tried other somewhat similar antidepressants (like SSRIs as opposed to Cymbalta the SNRI) that can be purchased as generics, that might be worth a try.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:33 PM on December 14, 2007

I appreciate all the quick responses!

We'll definitely check out wg's link.

metahawk/that girl, I'll ask her to check with her school, although it seems that when she enrolled they said there is little or nothing available through them. This was about 18 months ago, though.

cowbell, her doctor is aware, and twice reduced the requested lab work to help accommodate. Unfortunately SSRIs don't work for Mrs. ytrof. She was on Efexor(sp?) in the past, but it didn't work as well as the Cymbalta is working now.

Again, thanks to all who have posted.
posted by owtytrof at 6:43 PM on December 14, 2007

If she's a student, there might be bursaries of some sort available to her, even if there's not a health plan. At my university there are special bursaries you can apply for if you can prove that you're financially strapped and need money for medical services or prescriptions. Granted, I'm in Canada, but I believe I've heard of this at some US schools, as well. She might want to check with her financial aid office?
posted by drycleanonly at 7:07 PM on December 14, 2007

Check this thread out, this comment was especially helpful.
posted by sondrialiac at 7:21 PM on December 14, 2007

Almost all hospitals, if not all, have to offer some free care based on income and need. This includes all medications. You just have to know to ask for it and then apply. Most people are unaware of this (or are too proud to go through the application process?), but it can be a godsend.
posted by FlyByDay at 7:49 PM on December 14, 2007

Also, Eli Lilly runs several drug assistance programs for people in need. Check out their resource page.
posted by headspace at 8:28 PM on December 14, 2007

Agreeing with FlyByDay - Was able to talk down my wife's emergency room visit by about 40% just by communicating with the right people.
posted by Orb2069 at 8:31 PM on December 14, 2007

Definitely try the PPA. I told a friend about it, and he called me in a few weeks thanking me that he was able to get all of his medication free. Good luck.
posted by la petite marie at 9:07 PM on December 14, 2007

My wife is a Free Medical Clinic Director and seconds the NeedyMeds link referenced by the comment that sondrialiac linked to above. The site lists all the drug manufacturers' prescription assistance programs available and provides the forms required.

There also may be county funding for psychiatric care depending on what state you are in.
posted by jpdoane at 9:15 PM on December 14, 2007

This time I have some advice that is more practical. Here is link to a website put up by the State of Texas to people find insurance. Scroll down the section specifically for students.
posted by metahawk at 9:23 PM on December 14, 2007

When I was broke & on expensive meds, I went straight to the drug companies - I think I've mentioned it in previous threads around here. Pretty much every pharma co has a freebee program, if you fill out a form stating you need it etc. It's completely voluntary on their part, so no guarantees, but I got about $500 worth of anti-seizure meds per month for at least a year from one company (they actually sent it in 3 month increments, so I'd get a big packages of pills from them...) I was always vaguely worried they'd turn me down the next time, and it may not be a good long term solution, but if I remember correctly it's completely free...
posted by mdn at 9:24 PM on December 14, 2007

Wal-mart has at least 2 SSRIs on its $4 generic list:

Also, if you are Costco members, check the prices in their online pharmacy.

I would prefer any of these to any offshore pharmacy.
posted by Ervin at 10:47 PM on December 14, 2007

Sorry, I missed the part that SSRI's don't work for her.
posted by Ervin at 10:49 PM on December 14, 2007

(Does anyone know of prescription assistance programs for Canadians? I take an rx that's +$2100/month.)
posted by loiseau at 12:21 AM on December 15, 2007

Eli Lilly & Co. has a program called Lilly Cares for uninsured patients. Not sure if you meet the parameters as you must have an income under 200% of the federal poverty level. They provide meds for ~162k patients per year.

You must do this through your physician, who has to fill out some paperwork. You can also request it be sent to you by calling 1-800-545-6962. You can greatly increase your chances of this being sent in if you download the form yourself, fill it out as best as you can (obv. leaving blanks where the doc has to put in his license etc) and bring it with you.
posted by arnicae at 12:26 AM on December 15, 2007

Target also has a $4 prescription list, and Texas's HEB store chain has an extensive $5 list if you buy their $5 discount card. I don't see Cymbalta/duloxetine on either list, but maybe one of the various discount plans can cut down your overall drug costs enough to make Cymbalta's portion affordable.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:01 AM on December 15, 2007

I can tell you that as of last month an emergency appendectomy in San Jose, CA. produced a bill started at $15,000,/em>

Wow. Mine in the Chicago area was $30,000!

posted by la petite marie at 12:26 PM on December 15, 2007

Sorry - I screwed up the HTML.
posted by la petite marie at 12:26 PM on December 15, 2007

My county has a program that provides cheap (or free) prescription drugs for low-income patients. You might check to see if your county does the same.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:30 PM on December 15, 2007

Rxaminer is a new website that lets you see various prices on drugs. It'll also recommend cheaper drugs in the same class.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:23 PM on December 15, 2007

canada baby.

i was very wary of canadian drugs (it just feels so illegal, even though it isn't!) but have had a great experience with canada pharmacy so far. that link takes you to the cymbalta page, which is what you said you needed help with.

i don't know the dosage you need, but some of it seems pretty affordable.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:30 AM on December 17, 2007

« Older get out of my head baby dango!   |   Help me find my daughter's perfect dance dress... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.