Last month, we posted a blog about how many Americans are spending more than $50,000 or even $100,000 a year on medications—more  people than ever before. The information included insured Americans and found that insurance covered an average of 97% of prescription costs for those spending at least $50,000. At NeedyMeds, there are many assistance programs for those who are in need.  However, even with new laws and regulations there are those stuck in between.

There are patients in America that make too much money to qualify for assistance but still not enough to pay all their medical bills.  Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) and non-profit organizations often have limits to how much income a person or family makes in a year to be eligible for their services.  Good jobs and good insurance can still leave patients paying huge amounts for prescribed medications.

Some medications for serious or chronic diseases such as lupus can cost $2500 per dose. Even with insurance that pays 80% of the drug price there is a $450 out-of-pocket payment, which does not include monthly insurance premiums or other medical costs.  One hepatitis

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In the past five years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there have been strong supporters and fierce opponents.  No matter what side of the ACA one falls, it’s hard to deny the positive results it has had in some people’s lives. Since 2013, uninsured rate dropped by 31% among Americans ages 50-64.

Elderly Americans are among the most underserved populations in the country, and are at risk of struggling with poverty and disparity in health care.  The ACA expanded access to health insurance coverage to 50- to 64-year-olds through several provisions, including expanding eligibility for Medicaid, subsidies for consumers purchasing coverage through the new health insurance Marketplaces, prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher rates based on medical history, and restricting how much insurers can increase premiums for older consumers.  Prior to the ACA this age group often went without access to health insurance due to high costs, denials based on pre-existing conditions, and limited Medicaid eligibility.

Between December 2013 and December 2014, uninsured rates dropped from 11.6%

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In a previous guest post, Alison Lawton of the Access Our Medicine Initiative wrote on the importance of affordable medications and AOM’s goal to reach 100,000 signatures for their Access Our Medicine Declaration. Having achieved their goal, they are now planning a worldwide Thunderclap of awareness.

When we launched the Access Our Medicine Initiative on World Health Day last year I didn’t know if anyone would respond.

We knew that the price of medicine was rising for life-changing medicines with devastating consequences for everyone, around the globe. We learned of people choosing between food and medicine, being pushed into poverty and even dying because they couldn’t afford medicine they needed.

But I also knew that for many people the issue of access to affordable medicine just isn’t top of mind until they or their loved ones become sick. By then its too late – who has energy to talk about ways to improve the system and make medicine affordable at the moment when the priority is on advocating health for themselves or their friends and family?

And yet, the response has been overwhelming. People

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Medicines can only work in patients who can take them. If we have medicines today to treat people and they can’t access them, then we have to make changes. That’s why we launched the Access Our Medicine Initiative.

The Access Our Medicine Initiative launched in April 2014 inviting people to sign an online declaration with a simple statement – that everyone should have access to affordable medicine. Since then, over 75,000 people from 160 countries and a diverse range of organizations representing more than 400 million people have signed the Declaration at www.accessourmedicine.com.

Why are so many people interested?

Even with the Affordable Care Act, over 30 million Americans will not be able to afford their medicine. People are making sacrifices for their medicine, or are risking their health by sacrificing their medicine. Nobody should have to choose between filling prescriptions and buying groceries.

As part of the Access Our Medicine Initiative, we want to support critical organizations such as NeedyMeds offering immediate support to those patients and families needing access to medicine. I’m grateful to have NeedyMeds’

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Here at NeedyMeds we regularly refer people to their state’s Medicaid program, and in today’s blog post we are going to explain exactly what Medicaid is and how it functions. Are you currently enrolled in Medicaid? Share your experience with us in the comments section.

How is it Financed?

Medicaid, sometimes called Medical Assistance, is a joint federal and state entitlement program for people with limited income that helps to pay for medical costs. It receives a combination of funding from both the state and federal government. The amount paid to each state by the federal government, also known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage or FMAP, varies depending on multiple criteria, notably per capita income. From Medicaid.gov,The regular average state FMAP is 57%, but ranges from 50% in wealthier states up to 75% in states with lower per capita incomes. FMAPs are

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