Did you know that around 27.4 million non-elderly people in the United States were uninsured in 2017?
While the Affordable Care Act has helped more people obtain coverage, you might still be left without affordable insurance options and struggle with medications. This can make you rethink whether you need to take important prescriptions as often or even sway you to stop taking them at all.
The good news is that you have several options to help with medicine cost without insurance and possibly even receive some for free. While some of these options are for people with low incomes, you can still find savings if you don’t meet such requirements.
Read on for seven ways to get a cheap prescription without insurance.
1. Investigate Patient Assistance Programs
If you have a low to moderate income and need help paying for a name-brand medication, check into whether your drug manufacturer offers any financial assistance. You can often find this information on the drug maker’s website’s section for patients.
For example, the manufacturer might have a discount card that you print out and show the pharmacist to get your drug for a small copay. They might also have a program you can apply to where you’ll receive your medication free or for a low fee for a certain time period based on your income.
You can also consider using a website like Prescription Hope that will do the hard work for you. You can sign up online and have a representative connect you to the right patient assistance programs.
2. Purchase a Generic Version When Available
Buying the generic version of the medication is a good choice whether you’re uninsured or insured. Unless you have a newer medication or take a specialty drug, your pharmacy likely has a generic.
Not only will you pay a small fraction of the name-brand version’s cost, but your health will benefit just the same. The pills might look a bit different, but you’ll be happy to know the same effectiveness and quality are there.
If you can’t find a generic version for your current prescription, have a chat with your doctor. They may help you find another drug that works well for your condition but will better fit within your budget.
3. Get a Prescription Discount Card
Printing a prescription discount card from websites like Drugs.com, WellRx, or NeedyMeds can help you get immediate savings on most medications. These cards often come at no cost. However, there are also broader health services discount programs that come at a fee with additional benefits.
These cards usually have some codes your pharmacist will use to apply the discount. Prices will still often vary by pharmacy, and some pharmacies may not take the discount card you choose. So, be sure to contact the pharmacy beforehand if you use a discount card.
4. Use Prescription Price Checking Websites to Compare Prices
You might think of calling up your local pharmacy and asking, “How much will my prescription cost without insurance?” But there’s a much easier way to get this info thanks to sites like GoodRx and PharmacyChecker.com.
You can visit these sites to find a search option by medication name. You’ll then immediately know how much the drug costs at many local pharmacies.
You can find additional savings through coupons and discount cards these sites might offer. For example, GoodRx has an app you can pull up for the pharmacist for additional savings.
5. Ask Your Pharmacy About Any Savings Programs
Along with prescription discount programs from the web, pharmacies often have their own savings programs. These often apply to generic medications and can even include a list of free options.
For example, you can find popular generics through Walmart and pay only $4 for a month’s supply. This includes medications for diabetes, high cholesterol, thyroid conditions, heart disease, digestion, and other issues.
Meijer goes further to offer certain medications for free. This includes certain types of prenatal vitamins and popular antibiotics.
6. Look Into Prescription Grants Through Organizations
If you have a chronic disease that comes with expensive medication needs, you can find organizations willing to help. These include charities and foundations related to conditions like cancer, arthritis, heart problems, and cystic fibrosis.
Assistance often comes in the form of an annual grant that will cover your prescription cost fully or partly. This requires filling out an application and meeting any requirements related to your income and assets. Once the grant expires, you’ll need to apply for the grant again to get benefits.
Keep in mind that grant funds often open and close throughout the year. So, if the organization can’t help you now, contact them to get notified when the fund for your condition will accept applications again.
7. Buy Prescription Drugs Through Canadian Pharmacies
When you need an expensive medication without a generic option in the United States, it’s worth it to search prescription drugs available at Canadian pharmacies.
You can often find the same medication you need for a nice discount this way. But first you should know the rules about importing these medications.
The Food and Drug Administration warns you usually can’t legally import medications from Canada unless it’s a necessary drug unavailable in the United States. However, you may be able to get a 90-day supply of low-risk medications as long as you have a valid prescription and certify they’re for personal use.
Keep in mind this method means you’ll need to wait longer for your medications and follow the rules closely. If something goes wrong at customs, you could face a month or longer of waiting.
Begin to Reduce Your Medicine Cost Without Insurance
These tips should immediately help you lower your medicine cost without insurance. But it’s also worth checking if you’re eligible for free government insurance through Medicaid.
Depending on your state, you may qualify simply based on your income. In other cases, you may need to be disabled, elderly, or pregnant. Check your state’s requirements since Medicaid can offer both affordable health services and medications.
To learn more about staying healthy, be sure to check out our other health blog posts.