By Dean Urdahl
District 18B, State Representative
Higher gas prices are putting the squeeze on our budgets these days and unfortunately there is not a whole lot we can do to reduce the amount of money we spend driving our cars. Gas prices can put an additional burden on seniors and others who use prescription drugs. The good news is that there are many programs available that can help reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
The first thing that I would encourage everyone to do is stop by your local pharmacy and talk with the pharmacist about finding the lowest price on generic medications. Generic medications are exactly the same as name-brand drugs but retail for a much lower price. By doing this, you’ll be helping yourself and our local businesses.
I’ve listed a few prescription drug benefit programs here. If you don’t see one that fits you, please contact me and I will send you a larger and more comprehensive list.
MINNESOTA Rx CONNECT
This much talked about service allows Minnesotans information on how to save money on their prescription drugs. It also provides valuable information on how to safely obtain lower cost prescription drugs from Canada and the United Kingdom.
MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT
On January 1, 2006, the Medicare prescription drug benefit will offer all Medicare-eligible patients prescription drug coverage. To receive information on how to sign up for the Medicare program please call 1- 800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or go on the internet at www.medicare.gov.
DISCOUNTED PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AARP PHARMACY
The AARP Member Choice Card for seniors enables you to receive prescriptions at a preferred price. The card costs only $20 per year for AARP members and give you anywhere from 10 to 55 percent off your medications. You can also order by mail. Call 1-800-439-4457 for more details.
FREE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Over 49 pharmaceutical companies offer Patient Assistance Programs, including free drugs for people who qualify and are not eligible for any other state program. The prescriptions are usually shipped to the patient’s doctor and must be picked up at the doctor’s office. On average, most of these programs provide medication for patients up to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). If you have access to the Internet, go to www.HelpingPatients.org or you can call to request a copy of the directory at 1-800-762-4636.
By going around insurance companies, FaircareRX is able to offer many prescription drugs at very discounted prices. FaircareRX is a direct order pharmacy, meaning you don’t need to show your insurance card and is often times cheaper than your standard co-pay. Because it sells most drugs in bulk packages of 3, 6 or 12 months, FaircareRX works best for those who have long-term or permanent prescriptions. You can call them toll free 1-888-932-4779 for more information or visit www.faircarerx.com.
It may take some research and time on your part to find the program which is best for you. For example, while the common perception is that all drugs are cheaper in Canada, the fact is there are still some which cost less to purchase in the United States. If you are on prescription medicine and want to lower your costs, your best option is to talk with your doctor about what options are available for you and the medicines you take. I hope you have found this list helpful and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.