Patient Assistance Program F.A.Q.

Patient Assistance Program F.A.Q.

Here at NeedyMeds we are dedicated to providing information on how to save money on your medications and other health-related costs. One of our primary resources is our database of Patient Assistance Programs. Today we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Patient Assistance Programs. If you have any questions that are not covered here please leave us a comment and we will get you an answer!

What is a PAP? – Patient Assistance Programs are usually run by pharmaceutical companies to help uninsured and underinsured patients get their medication at free or low-cost. For more information on applying to a PAP read our previous blog post Applying to a Patient Assistance Program.

What are the requirements for a PAP? – Every program is different but most require personal information including your full name, address, date of birth, and social security number. They also generally require information from your doctor including their contact information and a valid prescription. Some programs also require a diagnosis and information on household income. When using NeedyMeds you can find the program’s requirements listed on the program information page.

Drug Discount CardIt doesn’t look like I qualify for a PAP – what are my options? – If you don’t initially qualify for a Patient Assistance Program, we recommend contacting the program anyways. In many cases the program will make an exception. If you are still unable to enroll in the program look and see if there is a coupon or rebate available. You can also use the free NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card, which has saved some users up to 80% on the cost of their medication.

There is no PAP for my medication, what should I do? – Contact the company that makes the drug and see if there are any assistance options available, sometimes they may be willing to help and it never hurts to ask. Otherwise look for coupon or rebate, or use the NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card.

03.27.13I need help applying, is there anyone who can help? – There are a number of organizations and groups that help people with the patient assistance program application process. You can find those organizations listed here. They are searchable by both state and zip code. If there is not an group to help in your area a relative or friend may be able to help.

What can I do to get my medication faster? – We always recommend that you call the program first, and review what information is necessary on the application. Make sure your application is 100% completed, as incomplete applications can significantly delay the time to get your medication. Also ask if you could fax or e-mail the application, and if so give a follow up call to ensure it was received.

I sent in my application two weeks ago and have not heard anything, what should I do? – Contact the program and confirm they received your application – it may have been lost in the mail. Your application may also have been incomplete. Many of these programs’ call centers are extremely busy, so remember to be patient.

New Ways Criminals are Trying to Prey on American Consumers

bottleEducated patients have known for years that randomly buying their medications from websites they find on Google can be dangerous.  The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy recently surveyed online pharmacies and found that 97% of them aren’t safe for Americans to order their medication from.

Additionally, the past two years has seen an influx of counterfeits into the United States as fake drug wholesalers have begun bombarding small clinics and physicians with direct sales tactics promising unrealistic discounts.   Three separate shipments of a fake version of a cancer drug have been found in the United States in the last two years.  It is not known how many patients received fake treatments due to this criminal ring.

How patients can stay safe

Use a discount card such as that from NeedyMeds

We know that patients often go looking for medication from unsafe sources when they’re trying to save money.  Working with NeedyMeds and their Patient Assistance Program listings and drug discount card is a best, first step to saving money safely. 

Comparison shop for prices, even on generic medication

PSM also recommend using mobile comparison shopping tools such as LowestMed and WeRX.   Just this year Consumer Reports published a study that even the price of generic drugs could be wildly different at various, licensed pharmacies.  If you want to comparison shop online, always choose from pharmacies licensed with the VIPPS seal.   None of the foreign online pharmacies you will find through Google or anywhere on the Internet are safe for Americans, because they don’t possess pharmacy licenses issued in the United States.

Pay attention when receiving medication in an office or clinic

Staying safe in the office is a little more challenging.   PSM recommends that when you’re in a clinic, hospital, or doctor’s office to get medication administered, that you always ask to see the vial or infusion bag and take a photo of the label and the lot number.

Efforts to improve patient safety in the works

SenateTo help secure the prescription drug supply chain, there is pending legislation in Congress that would add barcodes to all medication as it travels from the manufacturer, through shipping, and finally to your local pharmacist or doctor.   The legislation has already passed the House of Representatives (HR1919: Safeguarding America’s Pharmaceuticals Act of 2013) and is awaiting action for a full Senate vote to pass.  (S.959: Pharmaceutical Quality, Security, and Accountability Act)

During debate on this bill the Senate may also take up proposals to encourage Americans to begin sourcing their medications from unlicensed pharmacies overseas.  These proposals, often called “importation” or falsely “re-importation” suggest there is a cache of priced-controlled medication just waiting to be delivered at a discount to Americans.   Recent incidents in the oncology world have proved different: when we start dealing with foreign entities without US pharmacy licensing, patients are the ones who suffer when these entities cut corners.   This proposal was brought up in 2012 and opposed by a broad array of groups including both NeedyMeds and the Partnership for Safe Medicines.

To learn more about staying safe, check out these resources:

 

Marv Shepherd, Ph.D.  is the President of the Partnership for Safe Medicines, a not-for-profit dedicated to educating patients and healthcare providers about the dangers of counterfeit drugs. He is also a Professor of Health Outcomes and Pharmacy Practice at UT Austin College of Pharmacy and the Directo of the Center for Pharmacoeconomic Studies.   More information can be found at www.safemedicines.org.

New Tool, Approach for Consumers to Find Lower-priced Healthcare

There are a lot of people concerned about their healthcare costs in the U.S.  I’m certainly one of them.  My family gets hit unexpectedly like any other, and we have our own recurring medical bills to deal with.  Since I realized a few years ago that I could save upwards of one to two thousand dollars a year in medical expenses, I’ve made a habit of reviewing my medical bills much more closely.  This can take hours upon hours on the phone and researching of medical codes and jargon—far from a simple process.

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But what can you end up saving by comparing costs?   Multiple case studies have shown that the difference between the low and high price is often a factor of 5 to 15 times.   For San Francisco (the first metro area we have significant data for) you can pay as little as $149 or up to $833 (cash rate) for an ultrasound during pregnancy.  For those who don’t ask, or for whatever reason don’t get the uninsured or cash discount, the amount could go as high as $1,733.  Several imaging and lab work procedures have a much greater disparity.

 

The problem is finding prices to compare. In California, hospitals are required to publish some of their pricing data annually.  And though there’s a lot more where that came from, it’s just a drop in the bucket.  That source cannot currently give us insurance-negotiated rates at these hospitals.  And then there are the tens of thousands of non-hospital facilities.  Crowd-sourcing on a large scale is currently the only way to provide the full set of data we’ve all been waiting for.

 

Pricing Healthcare   Together We Can Make a Difference

That is where Pricing Healthcare comes in.  Our model is designed around crowd-sourcing healthcare pricing information.  All that’s needed now are individuals willing to share a little of their data.  We make it quite easy, anonymous and secure.   A few individuals in the same area going to the same facility can submit data and begin to pull back the curtain on that facility’s prices.  Providers have long been a roadblock to price transparency and we are removing provider dependency from the equation.  Furthermore, providers and facilities feeling a little competitive pressure on price will be forced to compete more on service and quality.

 

 

Bio

Randy CoxRandy Cox is the founder and CEO of Pricing Healthcare.  He grew up in Idaho and studied computer science at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.  In 2002 he moved into Medical IT and worked as software architect, analyst, and senior developer for Allscripts and Misys Healthcare. In 2011 he discovered a huge jump in some regular family medical expenses, and in the process of getting to the bottom of it, realized that healthcare services could be compared at any facility using standard medical codes, which usually show up on itemized statements.  When he realized that it was virtually impossible to get pricing from various companies online or over the phone, the idea of Pricing Healthcare was born.

Double Check, Don’t Double Up on Medicines Containing Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in the U.S. and is found in more than 600 different prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, including pain relievers, fever reducers, and sleep aids as well as cough, cold, and allergy medicines. It is safe and effective when used as directed, but taking more than directed is an overdose and can lead to liver damage.

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Research recently conducted by the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (the Alliance) found that more than half of Hispanic consumers are not aware of any health risks associated with taking too much acetaminophen, and do not check their medicine labels to see if their medicine contains acetaminophen.

 

That’s why NeedyMeds is partnering with the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition’s Know Your Dose Campaign to get the word out.

 

Here are four important steps to follow when taking any over-the-counter or prescription medicines:

1)     Always read and follow the labels on your medicines;

2)     Know if your medicine contains acetaminophen;

3)     Never take two medicines that contain acetaminophen at the same time; and

4)     Always ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about your medicines.

 

Know Your Dose

 

Visit KnowYourDose.org for more acetaminophen safe use tips in English and Spanish, a list of common medicines that contain acetaminophen and an interactive guide on how to read a medicine label. You can also call the Alliance’s toll-free Su Familia Helpline at 1-866-783-2645 if you have questions or need referrals to health resources in your community.

Volunteers in Medicine: Caring for the Uninsured

Access to Health Care

Today, many working individuals in America do not have health insurance and as a result do not have access to quality health care services.  Their employers may not provide coverage, or they may earn too little to buy affordable health insurance or earn too much to receive other types of public assistance.  These are the “working uninsured” who, in many communities, turn to Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) clinics and other safety-net clinics for access to health care services.

 

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Services provided in VIM Clinics

VIM clinics provide health care services free of charge.  Retired and practicing medical professionals volunteer their time and expertise to give back to their neighbors, treating diseases like hypertension, diabetes, mental health issues, and obesity.  Specialized services offered in many VIM clinics range from pediatrics and dentistry to ophthalmology and counseling. VIM clinics are supported by the local community and the services offered are based on the needs and resources in each community.

 

VIM Clinics and a Culture of Caring

VIM clinics promote a “Culture of Caring” wherein each patient and volunteer is treated with dignity and respect.  It is based on an ethical standard in medicine that acknowledges that how people are treated during a clinic visit is as important as the actual medical care they receive.  This approach promotes delivering quality health care in a coordinated manner within a nurturing environment.

 

How to Find a VIM Clinic

There are currently 95 VIM clinics is 29 states across the country.  To find a VIM clinic in your area, visit the VIM Clinic Directory on the Volunteers in Medicine website.  If you live in a community without a VIM clinic, the NeedyMeds clinic list can provide information on free or low cost clinics for your area.

 

Start a Free Clinic

Interested in developing a VIM clinic in your community?  The Volunteers in Medicine national office is dedicated to assisting individuals, groups and local communities in starting a free clinic. Experienced staff at VIM are available to work with local groups throughout the development process.  Visit Start a Clinic to find out what is involved.