Stay Informed

If you can’t afford your medication, have a conversation with your doctor before stopping it or taking less than prescribed.

December 7, 2021
Norton Healthcare
By Norton Healthcare

If you can’t afford your medications, there are steps you can take.

First, don’t skip doses or take less than prescribed. Talk to your doctor about cheaper alternatives, ask your pharmacist about options and check for any state or drug industry programs that might help.

“There are times when a less effective, cheaper alternative treatment is the right choice for a patient. Many expensive drugs are unaffordable, while others aren’t worth the cost,” said Jason L. Crowell, M.D., MPA, a neurologist specializing in movement disorders at Norton Neuroscience Institute.

Kentucky’s Prescription Assistance Program helps those who qualify find free or reduced-cost prescription drugs through the drug companies’ assistance programs, discount drug programs and discount pharmacy programs.

Indiana’s HoosierRx helps low-income older adults pay their Medicare Part D premiums and the prescription coverage under a Medicare Advantage plan.

Helping patients understand their options when they can’t afford their medication is a passion for Dr. Crowell. In his practice, it’s common for him to have patients with rare neurological conditions that could be helped by a medication costing thousands of dollars.

He often discusses the price of medication with his patients.

“As a physician, I want to know if the treatments I prescribe are inducing financial toxicity in my patients. I routinely ask patients about side effects of their medicine, and a drug’s cost is often its most significant side effect,” Dr. Crowell said. “It’s important we consider the big picture regarding the tests and treatments we recommend, including how it affects a patient’s mental health, family members and other areas of life. Affordability is a big part of that.”

He encourages patients to talk to their health care providers about the financial challenges their medication or other care may create and what they have to sacrifice. Being open about out-of-pocket expenses at the doctor’s office or pharmacy or for lab work and other tests can open the door to a conversation about alternatives.

Discuss your insurance coverage with your health care provider and seek to find a middle ground that addresses your conditions in an affordable way.

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