With the intense summer heat and horrible air quality, some people across the Central Valley are finding it difficult to breathe. When this happens, they quickly turn to their asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease inhalers. Greater use of these devices means more refills are needed.
For many middle-class families, the ongoing out-of-pocket costs for asthma or COPD medications is a growing burden. When money runs low, some people will try to stretch the use of their inhalers for as long as possible; others try to get by without them at all, placing their health at risk.
Asthma affects about one in every 13 Americans, one-fourth of whom are under the age of 18. It is the third-leading cause of hospital stays for children. COPD is a group of progressive lung diseases that obstruct airflow. Some 16 million Americans suffer from COPD, 70 percent of whom are 45 and older.
While many patients and caregivers struggle with these complex conditions, the high-cost insurance premiums, along with steep deductibles, copays, and poor prescription coverage, can prove a significant barrier. This is compounded by the fact that 75% of patients are not taking their medication correctly. The impact of nonadherence adds about $138 million to increased healthcare costs each year.
Asthma and COPD require an arsenal of medications. And, it is not uncommon for people suffering from one of these conditions to be impacted by other chronic conditions. Costs mount, and many are unable to afford the numerous medications needed. For working-class families, financial challenges continue to pile up. Insurers accept no responsibility and often fail to help people find free or subsidized programs offered by pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Rather than point fingers at medication costs or insurance company profits, it is important to help people find solutions.
Copay assistance cards, also called copay coupons, can help take the financial sting out of the cost of medication. To obtain one, patients must go to an asthma or COPD manufacturer’s website and search for financial or copay assistance programs, and complete an application to enroll. These programs were created for people with insufficient insurance, to make access to affordable medications easier. They lower or may even cover all of the cost for patients, with the pharmaceutical company covering the difference.
Before searching the internet for copay coupons, start with your local pharmacist. They are the most informed about prescription medications.
After consulting your pharmacist, explore the links below to see if any of these programs offered by pharmaceutical manufacturers may help. It is worth the time. If you get completely frustrated, email firstname.lastname@example.org and Legacy will try to help you.
And, if you are uninsured, there are programs that often cover close to 100% of your costs. Try this website, mat.org, offered by the pharmaceutical manufacturer’s trade association, or www.needymeds.org.
Cost should never be a barrier to care. We remain committed to helping people better understand the healthcare maze and get the help they need.
Jeffrey Lewis is president and CEO of Legacy Health Endowment in Turlock. He wrote this for The Modesto Bee.