What is prescription assistance programs

Programs that drug manufacturers sponsor to provide low-cost or free prescription medications to people who cannot afford to buy the medications they need. Most of these programs target seniors (people older than age 60 or 65), who often have only medicare or medicaid to cover the expenses of medical care. They require the person to complete an application form and submit it along with a statement from the person’s physician that attests to the person’s need for the medication. Doctors know of the various programs that are available and usually offer them to people they know are in need. Doctors also typically have samples of medications that they often give to people who are trying a new drug. No one should be without medication needed to treat Parkinson’s disease; assistance with drug costs is usually available in some form.

Many state health programs also have prescription assistance programs that are available to people whose income falls within a certain relation to the federal poverty level, such as 120 percent (the person is allowed to earn 120 percent of the federal poverty level and still qualify for the program). As of 2004, Medicare did not cover prescription medications and most state Medicaid programs at best offered coverage for those drugs on their formularies (lists of drugs for which Medicaid will pay).

The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) sponsors an Internet-based program called Bene-fitsCheckUpRx, at the website www.Bene-fitsCheckUp.org, that is designed to help people find low-cost or free prescription drugs. Prescription assistance programs usually provide limited medications; programs have different requirements and services.