You may have seen the ads claiming a company can help you get all your medications for free. These sites may claim there are “secret” programs run by pharmaceutical companies that provide medicines for free – and only these sites know how to access them. Other sites may claim “for a low monthly fee” they can get you your medicines at no cost.

Let’s take a look at these claims and learn the truth.

First, there are no “secret” programs. Most pharmaceutical companies have patient assistance programs (PAPs). You can find out about them on the companies’ websites, drug-specific websites, or at NeedyMeds. Some even mention them in their television ads. These are the “secret” programs the website ads refer to. Nothing secret about them!

Second, despite claims made on websites, PAPs don’t help with every drug. Each pharma company decide which drugs to offer on their PAP. Some include all their drugs, others programs only include certain drugs. What’s rare is to find is a program that provides free generic medicines.

Third, not everyone is eligible. Each program has its own eligibility guidelines

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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

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Illness can strike anyone at any time. Even a well-prepared person can feel lost and confused when trying to navigate the US healthcare system. For those unable to find their way, there is assistance available from local community action agencies and patient advocates.  The resources available to each community can differ, however the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) is a national non-profit organization that offers patient services with a mission to “safeguard patients through effective mediation, assuring access to care, maintenance of employment and preservation of financial stability.”

Founded in 1996, PAF’s primary purpose has been to provide direct services to patients, providers, family members and caregivers of those dealing with chronic, life-threatening, or debilitating conditions.  There is no charge for their services as they assist as “active liaisons” working on behalf of the patient. Primarily phone-based interactions are provided by professional case managers provide real-time support for today’s healthcare challenges.  Focusing on the areas of insurance barriers, employment preservation, financial stability

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November 2014 has been proclaimed as National Family Caregivers Month by President Barack Obama to “pay tribute to those who provide for the health and well-being of their family members, friends, and neighbors.” In honor of the over 60 million caregivers in the United States, we are focusing this week’s blog post on resources for these strong and selfless individuals.

Whether you are taking care of the young or elderly; the ill, injured, or disabled; the difficulty of the work, while rewarding, can be draining. Respite care services (outlined here by StuffSeniorsNeed.com) can help allay the exhaustion and give a well-deserved break to caregivers. In 2006, the Lifespan Respite Care Program was authorized by Congress and has since been implemented in 30 states. Funded by federal grants from the Administration for Community Living and the Administration on Aging, the program has expanded access to respite care for caregivers of patients of all ages.

Caregivers of veterans are eligible for support from the US Department of

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All About PARE

In last week’s blog post we looked at what resources we have available for Patient Advocates. This week we would like to go a step further and introduce our latest resource for advocates – Patient Assistance Resource Education (PARE). The purpose of PARE is to educate healthcare professionals on how to best utilize NeedyMeds to serve their patients. Advocates and medical office staff complete a web-based and self-paced course that goes in-depth into all of our databases and resources. After completing PARE, advocates will be able to navigate the often confusing and complex world of patient assistance.

One of the primary lessons is on Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). We currently list PAPs for over 4,381 drugs on NeedyMeds.org. However, many people are unaware of how to apply to a program, and how the programs actually work. Every PAP is different, with different eligibility requirements. Using PARE, advocates and medical professionals will learn how to use NeedyMeds to find and enroll their patients in these programs.

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