Many people find that the arthritis drugs they have been prescribed are not accessible to them. The inaccessibility can be due to lack of insurance coverage, low income, or denials from insurance companies. Soaring prescription prices also compound the problem of inaccessibility. But when access to prescription drugs seems like a dead-end, there may still be other avenues to try. Arthritis Today, the official publication of the Arthritis Foundation, has offered sound advice which may help bring necessary medications within reach. There are particular do's and don'ts which can improve your chances to obtain what you need.
Be a Savvy Consumer
If you are a health insurance subscriber, learn exactly what your plan covers. Familiarize yourself with the schedule of benefits and know its limits. Determine what medications are on the list of approved drugs, called the formulary. If you have a choice of plans, compare benefits and formularies. Remember also that formularies can change, so be sure you are updated.
Be Careful if You Shop Internationally
Many drugs can be obtained at significantly lower prices outside the United States, in Canada and Mexico. When considering the potential savings, remember that U.S. law prohibits purchasing drugs which are not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Foreign copies of approved American drugs are also prohibited. There is no assurance that you will receive genuine prescription drugs in foreign countries.
Ask Your Doctor for Help
Seek the help of your doctor by asking him/her to write a letter. Initial refusal by an insurance company to pay for a prescription may possibly be reversed if your doctor explains in a letter the absolute necessity of the drug in your particular case.
Talk to Your Benefits Director
If you have healthcare coverage through your employer, view the benefits director as a supporter and someone who can help you. The benefits director is often in a position to influence the insurance company. Explain your problem to the benefits director and enlist their help. The benefits director may be your link to a positive outcome.
Look into Assistance Programs
Pharmaceutical assistance programs are offered by many drug companies for people in medical and financial need. The requirements for qualification can vary among the different drug companies but all of them call for:
- an application
- a prescription
- a doctor's signature
People considered for assistance programs are typically uninsured with low income but some people qualify with higher income. Check with RxAssist - Patient Assistance Program Center for specific contact information.
Here's what you should do after obtaining contact information:
- Call the drug manufacturer (in some cases your doctor must make the call)
- Inquire about their pharmaceutical assistance program
- Request an application
- Once the application is received, fill it out and have your doctor sign it
- Your doctor must furnish a valid prescription