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Posted: January 29, 2009

Spousal Caregiving

Possible Ways to Cut Your Prescription Costs

Bill Andrew

 Once again, I am going to my e-mail box for caregiver responses to this column.  As I indicated in my last column, I will be trying to respond to reader comments and questions better than I have in the past.  As regular readers of this column already know, I have been in traveling the "bereavement journey" during the past several months, following the death of my wife of 57 years, Carol, who died last June after her 14-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. I have resolved to change my focus during 2009 and responding to reader e-mails is one of those resolutions, so here goes. 

Mary writes that prescription medications are taking a toll on both her financial and stress levels as she cares for her husband.  I have provided her with a number of opportunities to reduce those prescription costs -- perhaps even getting them free!

_____

Dear Bill: 

We have entered a very difficult period with my husband's Parkinson's disease.  He now has a feeding tube because food was aspirating into his lungs and causing pneumonia.  Added to this, his speech is very bad although he is going through speech therapy.  He has also lost the ability to do simple things that he has always done. 

I just discovered how badly we are in debt on our credit card because he was taking care of the bills.  One of the reasons our card debt is so high is because of the cost of his medications.  Under the HMO we have, which takes the place of Medicare, it doesn't take too long to fall into the "donut hole," where we have to pay full price for his medications until it reaches over $4,000. 

My question is -- is there any way that we can reduce to cost of medications in this time of need?  This has certainly added stress to both of us.  When his stress level is high, it affects his condition and makes it worse for both of us. 

Thanks for just reading my letter.

Regards, Mary 

Dear Mary: 

Thank you for your letter.  Obviously, you have your hands full being a family caregiver for your husband.  You did not mention having any type of support either for him or for you.  If not, I would advise you to investigate the options that might be available to you in your community to help you help him.  I would also advise you to check out the availability of respite care for your husband so that you can get some time for yourself to reduce your personal stress levels. 

Regarding the possible reduction of costs for his medications, I have several suggestions.  Check out the website Partnership for Prescription Assistance at www.pparx.org or you can call them at 888-477-2669 (1-888-4PPA-NOW).  PPARX brings together America's pharmaceutical companies, doctors, other healthcare providers, patient advocacy organizations, and community groups to help qualifying patients, who lack prescription coverage, get the medicines they need through the public or private program that is right for them.  Many will get them free or nearly free.  The mission of PPARX is to increase awareness of patient assistance programs and boost enrollment of those who are eligible.  The website offers a single point of access to more than 475 public and private patient assistance programs, including more than 180 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. 

In order to find out what patient assistance programs your husband may qualify for, all you have to do is answer a few short eligibility questions.  This site will help supply you with the information you need to get involved in a program and even allow you to download applications online which you can then follow the instructions on the application to apply. 

Another source of free or low-cost health care is the RxAssist patient assistance program center at www.rxassist.org.  They claim to have the web's most current and comprehensive directory of patient assistance programs sponsored by pharmaceutical companies to provide free medications to people who can not afford to buy their medicine.  RxAssist offers a comprehensive database of these patient assistance programs, as well as practical tools, news, and articles so that health care professionals and patients can find the information that they need, all in one place. 

Yet another source of information is NeedyMeds at www.needymeds.org.  The mission of NeedyMeds is to make information available about assistance programs for low-income patients and their advocates at no cost.  Databases such as Patient Assistance Programs and Disease-Based Assistance, government programs, and other types of assistance are the crux of the free information that they offer online. 

In addition, there may be programs in your community that offer free or low-cost health care, including prescription assistance.  These may include:

  • Community health centers
  • Free clinics
  • Your doctor(s)
  • Hospitals
  • Pharmacies
  • Social service agencies and programs
  • Disease specific programs through their national organizations or state and local chapters such as the American Parkinson Disease Association or National Parkinson Foundation
  • Medicaid or similar programs that offer prescription coverage 

I would urge you to check out all of the above resources, and good luck.  I am sure that you will be able to reduce most, if not all, of your husband's medication costs through one of the above named sources. 

God bless,

Bill

_____

I am sure many readers of this column will benefit from the above suggestions.  If you have experience with any of the above-named resources, I would appreciate hearing from you. 

Please e-mail me at ASKBill@caregivershome.com with your comments and/or reactions.  I will include them in a future column with your permission.  Please provide your full name and address.  In the column, I will only use your first name and the initial of your last name as well as your city and state.  Thank you. 

WORDS TO CARE BY . . . 

"If one does not know to which port one is sailing,

no wind is favorable." 

Seneca (5BC-65AD)


Bill Andrew identifies himself as a former “nutritionally-empowered Alzheimer’s caregiver” who attributes the slow-down in progression of Alzheimer’s disease in his wife, Carol – and the growth of his own personal emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual capability and strength to provide quality 24/7 care for her in their own home – to the targeted nutritional supplements they both took on a daily basis. Carol went to her Heavenly reward on June 9, 2008 – Bill continues on to advocate for family caregivers. Contact Bill with your caregiving questions and comments via email at ASKBill@caregivershome.com.

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