Getting people to stick to their prescribed medication regimens is tough, even in the best of times. But when someone loses a job or health insurance and money is tight, it's even more tempting to skip taking the pills that are critical to health and well-being.
The Kaiser Family Foundation's February health tracking poll found that more than half of people said they've cut back on necessary healthcare in the past year because of cost. Of those, 21 percent said they didn't fill a prescription they needed, and 15 percent said they split pills or skipped doses of medications.
There are no easy solutions. But here's one small assist. Today, Together Rx Access, a drug discount program funded by drug manufacturers, announced it's making it easier for people to participate in their program by expanding the income levels that determine eligibility.
According to the program, the new income limits mean that over 90 percent of uninsured Americans will be able to get access to the discounted drugs. Here are the new limits:
- $45,000 for a single person (formerly $30,000)
- $60,000 for a family of two (formerly $40,000)
- $75,000 for a family of three (formerly $50,000)
- $90,000 for a family of four (formerly $60,000)
- $105,000 for a family of five (formerly $70,000)
The program is free. When members present their card (you can enroll at togetherrxaccess.com or by calling 800-966-0407) at participating pharmacies, they generally receive a discount of between 25 and 40 percent off the cash price they'd pay at the pharmacy counter, according to Together Rx Access materials. The program covers some 300 brand-name drugs as well as thousands of generics, says Executive Director Roba Whiteley. This being a site funded by drug companies, the list of discounted brand-name drugs is prominently displayed. Unfortunately, there is no corresponding list of discounted generics on the website, but Whiteley assured me that consumers will receive similar discounts on many thousands of generic drugs at participating pharmacies with the Together Rx Access card.
To make sure you're getting the best deal, it's important to do your homework. The Together Rx Access program may be good for some people, especially those who take pricey brand-name drugs. But if that sounds like you, maybe your first step should be to talk with your doctor about whether there's a cheaper generic alternative that might do the job just as well as the more expensive drug you're on. After all, getting a 25 percent discount off a $100 prescription for cholesterol-lowerer Lipitor is really no bargain if you could do just as well on a generic cholesterol drug like simvastatin that costs $20.