There are many companies that, for a fee, offer to help people apply to pharmaceutical patient assistance programs (PAPs). Some even show up when you do a Google search for “NeedyMeds” or words spelled close to “NeedyMeds.”
While some make reasonable claims, others seem to say if you pay them a fee they can get you any medicine for free. And some of the fees can pile up pretty quickly.
No PAP charges you to apply. Occasionally you’ll find one that has a copayment, but you should never pay upfront.
How complicated is it to apply to a PAP? The simple answer is “it depends on the program.” Just about every program has its own application. Some are very simple while others are a little more demanding. But this should never deter anyone from applying.
Horror stories abound about people who were duped by companies that help people apply to PAPs. What steps should you take to protect yourself from being ripped off?
There are websites where people describe the problems they encounter with companies such as:
Another way to find potential problems is just to Google the company name with the word “complaints.” You can also contact the attorney general’s office in the company’s state of incorporation to see if they have received complaints or investigated the company.
Don’t be suckered by the testimonials that appear on a company’s website. Even if they are real, you never see a testimonial complaining about their service.
The fees these companies charge vary quite a bit. Most charge a registration fee of $35 or more to enter your information into their system. Not too bad so far. But then they may charge for each application they complete of $25 or more. Some then add a monthly fee per prescription and you can see how the charges can add up.
A few other important points:
- Just because they say they will refund your money if you are dissatisfied doesn’t mean they will or that the process is easy.
- Never give any company access to your bank accounts.
- Pay with a credit card because if there’s a dispute, the credit card company may help you get your money back
- You never know what the company will do with the information you give them. Your information has marketing value and they may sell it. Just because their website says they don’t – doesn’t mean they really don’t.
- Make sure the company lists a customer service phone number. Give it a call with a question to evaluate the support they offer.
Perhaps the most important question you should ask yourself is why pay someone to do what you can do yourself? All the information you need is on the NeedyMeds website. It lists all the drugs on PAPs, all the eligibility criteria, and has copies of applications. With a little time and effort you can apply yourself without paying anyone. Any claims that a company has special skills or access to the PAPs are baloney.
There are many programs that will help individuals find PAPs and complete the application. NeedyMeds has a list of 944 programs.
Remember that all the information you need is available on NeedyMeds and is always free. NeedyMeds never charges individuals.
It’s a buyer-beware situation, so look carefully before paying for what you can easily do for free yourself! Remember the most important consumer protection saying there is: “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”