Transgender Awareness Week

The week leading up to November 20 is observed as Transgender Awareness Week. While new healthcare laws may have expanded access for more Americans, there are still populations that continue to have little to no access to appropriate health care. In the United States, over 27% of transgender/gender non-conforming people have been denied health care.

As transgender/gender non-conforming have become more mainstream terms in recent years, one should be aware of the concept of gender identity:

Gender identity” shall mean a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth. Gender-related identity may be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, as part of a person’s core identity; provided however, gender-related identity shall not be asserted for any improper purpose.

Transgender/gender non-conforming people can face significant problems when trying to access care; most commonly locating providers who are knowledgeable about transgender health issues, and the ability to secure and pay for the services they need. Even paperwork can be a barrier to healthcare for transgender individuals as standard forms often only list “male” or “female.” Nearly 21% of transgender people in the US report being subjected to harsh or abusive language from a health care professional, and an almost equal amount say health care providers have blamed them for their own health conditions. Transgender people report the highest rates of discrimination and barriers to care among the LGBT community.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has information on finding insurance for transgender-related healthcare, which can be a challenge for many transgender people. To further help those in need, NeedyMeds has a growing list of programs in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance database for transgender/gender non-conforming people that offer various forms of assistance such as financial aid or legal services. NeedyMeds’ unique crowdfunding platform HEALfundr is also available for individuals trying to raise funds for their transition. If you know any programs assisting transgender/gender non-conforming people that we don’t have listed on our site, leave and comment and let us know about it.


Transgender Awareness

Transgender Pride Flag

ACA Insures Over 10 Million People

Having health insurance is vital to one’s health and financial well-being in the United States.  Out-of-pocket medical expenses are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.  Even with new laws such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—aka “Obamacare”—11.7% of Americans remain uninsured.


Analysts have only recently been able to examine the data of uninsured rates prior to ACA’s implementation to now.  WalletHub released the stats for all 50 states and Washington DC and ranked each by their current uninsured rate; Massachusetts is ranked highest with only 3.28% uninsured, and Texas is ranked last with 19.06%.

In numbers, even the last-ranked state Texas reduced children’s uninsured rate by 23.88% and adult uninsured rate by 19.27% between 2010 and 2014. Even with the current highest rate of uninsured Americans, 827,997 people gained health insurance coverage in Texas in the years being analyzed.


Over 10,000,000 previously uninsured Americans are now covered under the ACA.  In a previous blog post, we discussed how the ACA was helping seniors as compared to 2013—especially in states that expanded Medicaid. The new numbers illustrate the whole effect of the ACA on the entire population as compared to before the implementation of the law as well as comparing Medicaid-expanded states and states that did not expand Medicaid.

Uninsured Rate Medicaid 2014 v3.

Source: WalletHub


NeedyMeds’ mission is to help those facing the high costs of health care. For those unable to afford their medications, NeedyMeds has an extensive database of Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). NeedyMeds also has information on Coupons and Rebates that can help lower the cost of necessary medications. For those without any prescription coverage, the NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card saves 0-80% on any prescribed medication. A plastic card can be ordered online or requested by calling our toll-free helpline at 800-503-6897, or a printable version can be found on our website as well as a smartphone app on Apple and Android devices.

National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.  In previous blog posts, we have offered tips for prevention and saving costs.  We have also held special topic webinars on empowering patients to self-manage their diabetes.


In the United States, nearly 30 million people are diagnosed with diabetes, with another 86 million Americans at risk for type 2 diabetes; that’s nearly one out of every 11 people with diabetes, with 1 out of 4 unaware they have the condition.  Awareness of the disease can not only prevent future cases for those at risk, but also help raise funds to develop new treatments for those living with diabetes.


file0001162747680There are different types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes presents with the body not making insulin, and those diagnosed must take insulin injections every day. Only 5% of those diagnosed with diabetes have type 1, and there is no known method to cure or prevent type 1 diabetes.  With type 2 diabetes, one’s body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels. Type 2 diabetes has a number of risk factors:

  • Being overweight;
  • Being 45 years or older;
  • Having a parent or sibling diagnosed with type 2 diabetes;
  • Being physically active less than 3 times per week.


Race and ethnicity also can affect one’s risk.  African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.  Preventing type 2 diabetes can be as easy as eating healthy food such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; staying physically active; and stop (or don’t start) smoking.  These methods are also used to manage diabetes once diagnosed, along with testing your blood sugar and taking medicine/insulin as prescribed.


People with both type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at higher risk for serious health complications including heart disease, stroke, blindness or other eye problems, kidney disease, and severe infections that can lead to amputations.  The risk of death for adults with diabetes is 50% higher and their medical costs are twice as high than those without.


NeedyMeds has several areas to search for help with diabetes costs.  Our Patent Assistance Programs (PAPs) database has programs offered by pharmaceutical companies that provide medication at low- or no cost for those who qualify.  To find out if there’s a PAP available for your medication, click on the Brand Name Drugs or Generic Name Drugs links and look up your medication alphabetically.  If you find your medication, click on it and you will be able to look over any assistance programs that are available and their unique eligibility requirements.  There are also coupons and our Drug Discount Card for those unable to use or find a PAP. The card can also be used for purchasing diabetes supplies, such as glucose meters, strips and lancets, as long as they are written like a prescription.


There are also many national and local resources for those with diabetes in our Diagnosis-Based Assistance area of our site.  All of our information is available for free on our website or through our toll-free helpline at 1-800-503-6897.

Why Drug Prices Skyrocket

Drug prices continue to be a major concern for Americans.  According to a Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll published today, 77% of those surveyed said medication costs were their number one health concern, reflecting recent headline-making increases.  Furthermore, 63% support government action to lower prescription drug costs as a top priority. Compared to a study by the same organization from August, the results are largely the same with notably increased support of government intervention.


The United States is the only developed nation that allows drug makers to set their own prices. Throughout Europe, Canada, and Australia, governments negotiate the price of drugs with pharmaceutical companies in the name of public interest.  The United Kingdom, for example, negotiates through the National Institute of Clinical Evaluation (NICE). NICE researches and analyzes new drugs, procedures, and devices and tells the manufacturers the price the UK is willing to pay. These practices make life-saving healthcare affordable to all those who need it in their countries.


In the US, pharmaceutical companies set the price of their medications. These price-points are based on profit margins and what competitors charge for similar products (similar in number of prescriptions; not necessarily similar in function or diagnoses). Sharing a market with $100,000 cancer treatments leads to new drugs trying to match those prices. Steven Pearson, founder and president of the Institute for Clinical and Economic Reviews, a nonprofit that evaluates evidence on medical tests, describes it this way: “It’s not a market. It’s a drug maker saying what they want.”


Rising Healthcare CostWhile it’s easy to attack a pharmaceutical company for seemingly greedy practices, they are only taking advantage of a system that refuses to see the greater issue—if patients can’t afford a medicine they need, they could have worse odds of living. Certain drug manufacturers have responded to criticisms by saying they will lower the price of their medication, but have as of yet failed to follow through with their pledge. For the bigger issue of the system in which the US health industry exists, there is unfortunately no easy answer. The Congressional Finance Committee is currently reviewing a law proposed to help those with Medicare with the high costs of medications, as well as allow government negotiations with pharmaceutical companies and importing medications from nations that offer life-saving drugs at a lower price. A number of states are also working on passing bills that will put a cap on out-of-pocket costs for prescribed medications; a few states already have similar caps in place.


NeedyMeds exists to help those struggling with the high costs of medicine and medical care. Our site has databases of Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) that offer brand-name or generic drugs for low- or no cost. Daraprim, a toxoplasmosis medication that increased sharply in price last month, is only one such drug offered by such a program. You can search your medication in the Drug Search on the NeedyMeds website, or call our toll-free helpline (800-503-6897).

Health Literacy and Continuing Your Health Education

Since 1999, October is Health Literacy Month.  This week is also National Health Education Week.  Health literacy is defined as the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Being able to disseminate health information allows people to navigate the healthcare system, keep track of their medical history, competently engage in self-care, and understand probability of health risks.


Health literacy is the main form of defense against misinformation prevalent in our society. Knowledge of the facts is key to combat the influence of those who would fly in the face of medical and scientific studies on subjects such as vaccinations or family planning services.  Dangerous pseudoscience can be avoided, saving individuals money and suffering at the hands of those who either don’t know or don’t care.  Despite this, only 12% of adults have “Proficient” health literacy according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. This means nearly nine out of ten American adults may lack the knowledge necessary to manage their health and prevent disease. Populations most likely to experience low health literacy are the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, people with less than a high school-equivalent education, people with low-income, non-native English speakers, and individuals with compromised health status.



The primary responsibility of improving health literacy lies with health officials and the healthcare and public health systems.  When faced with one’s own health or the health of a loved one, a person can inform themselves and hold a more active role in their health education.  NeedyMeds has Disease Information Pages to help individuals learn about conditions that they or a loved one have been diagnosed with.  Many of our Disease Information Pages are co-sponsored by partner organizations, offering their expertise to the information we offer and ensuring accurate and up-to-date resources for the diagnoses they focus on.  We also list free and low-cost clinics, some of which offer health education services. Search your zip code for locations near you that offer Health Education under the Details column.  NeedyMeds also has an easy-to-understand Patient Education Booklet that explains resources that can help save money on healthcare expenses. You can order a copy through our Subscription Center or download a copy.

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