Affording the cost of prescription drugs can be an issue for many people, and navigating the system to get the best deal on those medications can be a challenge, but a new book called “Rx Help Handbook” can be of assistance.
This book was written by Bret LaCroix, who has been a paramedic for 27 years, the past 18 of these in Lincoln County. Not long ago, his own company changed medical insurance plans, and he started doing some research online to help a co-worker find options for purchasing expensive prescriptions, to see what options might be available.
“I know there’s programs out there, and so I started looking,” said LaCroix. “I’d known there was an issue with people affording their medications, but then as I got researching, I didn’t realize there was this much information.”
People are living longer and better, thanks in part to the abundance of pharmaceuticals available to treat or control nearly every type of health problem, said LaCroix. “However, medications are only effective if they are taken as your doctor prescribed, and you can only take them if you can afford to purchase them in the first place.”
For those people who are uninsured or who have insurance with high deductibles, finding the money each month to pay for medications can be a challenge. “Too many people are skipping doses or leaving some of the expensive prescriptions unfilled,” LaCroix said. “This type of ‘medication rationing’ can lead to unnecessary/preventable emergency room visits, hospitalizations and worsening of chronic medical conditions.” As he dove into his research regarding prescription drug saving programs, he said, “I was totally blown away by what I discovered.
“I started seeing all these programs for co-pay cards … they were everywhere for all these medications,” continued LaCroix. “And then there were patient-assistance programs that I saw. It was like a rabbit hole, you look at one thing and see all these programs, and there’s websites … there was a lot of research — I spent 1,000 hours of research. Between ambulance calls I was on my computer looking for all of these things.”
LaCroix said the more research he did, “the more programs I found designed to help those who are uninsured, as well as those who have insurance with very large deductibles and co-payments. Drug company savings offers, co-pay cards and patient assistance programs (covering people of nearly every income range) seemed to be everywhere. I have to admit, like most people who watch and read the news these days, I was led to believe that the pharmaceutical companies were big, impersonal, profit-driven entities that really didn’t care about patients. My research, as demonstrated by the Rx Help Handbook, tells a much different story.”
The Rx Help Handbook lists brand-name medications, and “every program in here is done by the pharmaceutical company. There’s not one program in here that’s by the government,” LaCroix said.
“Another thing I didn’t realize is I thought you had to be dirt poor to qualify,” he added. “But with a lot of these medications, you can qualify if you make $60,000 as a single or $82,000 as a couple, $100,000 for a household, all the way up to $150,000. So there’s all these different programs for different income levels.”
And contrary to what many people believe, LaCroix discovered the generic version of a drug isn’t always the cheapest route to go. “Don’t pay for a generic if there’s a program where you can get the brand name for free,” he said. “The pharmaceutical companies have programs to help you to afford the medications or even make it zero out of pocket because they want to compete with the generics.”
Not everyone is computer savvy or has the time to do the hours of research needed to wade through the system, “so I put it into a book,” said LaCroix. “I made it in larger print so it’s easier to read, I made it ‘at a glance’ so you can see what the program is, what the income level is, whether it’s a co-pay card or a patient assistance program.” And for those who may be taking the generic version of a drug, the generic name is listed, as well, for easy cross-reference.
LaCroix points out that none of the information in his book is intended as medical or health advice. The programs presented are for individuals who have already been prescribed medications by their doctor. There are also no warranties expressed or implied in the information presented, and while information was accurate at the time it was compiled, all programs are subject to change.
LaCroix said he found the research to be interesting, and he believes there are people who can be helped by the information he has compiled. Anyone interest in learning more or in purchasing a copy of the book can go online at www.RxHelpHandbook.com. The book is also available on Amazon and through Barnes & Noble.