With the costs of healthcare continuing to rise, many people have found themselves making tough decisions between paying for food, housing or medications. We launched NeedyMeds as an information resource to help people navigate the healthcare landscape and find ways to save on the costs of medicine. One of the most popular resources on NeedyMeds.org is our listings of Patient Assistance Programs or PAPs. We currently list programs for over 4,415 different medications, and update our information daily. But just what is a PAP, and how do they work? Patient Assistance Programs are usually offered by pharmaceutical companies. However, there are pharmacies and non-profit groups that run them as well. These programs offer medications at a reduced cost or for free.
Finding a Patient Assistance Program is easy. NeedyMeds.org lists programs alphabetically by both Brand Name and Generic Name. Simply look up your drug on the list and click the name of the drug to see what programs are available. If there is more than one program for a PAP, they are listed in order of Brand Name first over Generic, and by the amount of savings. These program detail pages includes all of the contact information for the program along with the application form. If your drug is not listed, there is not a program available at this time, but make sure to check both the brand and generic name.
Every PAP has a different set of guidelines and requirements, and unfortunately there is no “standard application” form that is used across multiple PAPs. However, many programs do have similar requirements and forms. Most programs require that the patient be a legal resident of the United States. Many also have an income requirement based on the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and ask for a tax return or pay stub to prove the applicant’s income level. If you need help determining your income level, the program page has an FPL calculator tool. Almost all programs require a prescription, and many require a diagnosis and signature from a doctor. Another common requirement is that the patient be uninsured, underinsured or on Medicare Part D. The requirements for each program are listed on their information page. We recommend calling the program before sending in an application to confirm the details.
After calling the program to confirm your eligibility, the next step is to download and complete the application form. Most program’s applications are multiple pages, with sections for both you and your doctor to complete. Once completed, be sure to double check the form for missing information. Sending in an incomplete application can cause a delay in receiving your medications. After sending in the application, call the program to confirm that they have received it and that it looks complete. Generally it takes one to two weeks for the program to process your application and approve it, and another one to two weeks before the medication is delivered. While many programs will use a mail-order pharmacy to ship the medication, some use vouchers or a reimbursement program.
We recommend contacting the program even if you do not meet the eligibility requirements – in many instances they will allow you to enter the program. When speaking with a call center representative, always be courteous.They get many calls every day and being friendly is always a welcome approach. If there is no PAP available for your medication, contact the company that makes the drug and see if there are any assistance options available, sometimes they may be willing to help and it never hurts to ask. Otherwise look for coupon or rebate, or use the NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card.