More and more families continue to feel the pinch from outrageous pharmaceutical prices. In fact, a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundations finds that many people have skipped or rationed their prescription medications or have substituted their meds for cheaper—and sometimes not as effective—over-the-counter drugs. For children who need medication—especially for chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes—the high cost of pharmaceuticals can be even more challenging for a family.
Fortunately, there are programs that help children, and their families gain access to necessary medications—often at a reduced rate or no cost at all.
- NeedyMeds is a national nonprofit organization that manages a website of free information on programs that help families who cannot afford medications and healthcare costs. More than 1.3 million patients, family members, healthcare professionals, social workers and patient advocates use the NeedyMeds website each year. It contains regularly updated data on over 9,000 assistance programs, 15,000 free/low-cost/sliding scale clinics and nearly 1,500 drug discount coupons. The website also publishes information about resources for specific diseases. The best part? All the information is accessible online, at no charge and without registration. Click www.needymeds.org to learn more.
- The Partnership for Prescription Assistance is a nonprofit organization that makes it easier for uninsured and underinsured patients to get free or nearly free prescription medicines through existing patient assistance programs. A patient or patient advocate simply completes an online questionnaire with basic information about prescription medicines, income, and current prescription medicine coverage and PPA matches the patient with assistance programs for which they may be eligible. The site also gives information on patient assistance programs, savings cards, and links to other resources such as the Health Insurance Marketplace. Site visitors can search by prescriptions and be matched up with eligible patient assistance programs or they can also search by clinic location. To learn more visit www.pparx.org.
- RXOutreach is a fully licensed nonprofit mail order pharmacy whose mission is to provide affordable medications for people in need. According to their website, Rx Outreach provides over 400 affordable medications to people in need and provided prescription medications to over 500,000 patients since they began. The program was developed by a subsidiary of Express Scripts, Inc. in 2004. In 2010, Express Scripts spun off Rx Outreach to be a stand-alone, charitable organization to improve access to prescription medicines for low-income, uninsured patients. Rx Outreach is available to individuals and families whose income is at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level. For a single person, annual income cannot exceed $33,510; a family of four may have an annual household income up to $69,150. For more information on qualifying for RXOutreach along with a list of available medications, visit www.RXOutreach.org.
Other pharmaceutical resources and community services:
There are also several specialized programs sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, business associations and nonprofit organizations to assist low-income or needy individuals in obtaining necessary prescription medications free or at a substantially reduced cost. Visit the Healthy Connections website from the SC Department of Health and Human Services at https://www.scdhhs.gov/sites/default/files/PrescriptionAssistance-Letter.pdf.
- The United Way’s 2-1-1 resource helps connect people with important community services to meet every day needs along with the immediate needs of people in crisis. The serve helps families in need find assistance in their part of the state, offering information and assistance in such areas as finding affordable high quality child care and after-school care; counseling and support groups; health services; food, clothing, and housing; and services for seniors and the disabled. You can access this important resource by calling 2-1-1 on any phone or by visiting https://sc211.org/.
- Families can also find support for their children’s needs from birth through age five through First Five SC. This one-stop website connects families with 60 South Carolina’s public services for young children. The portal offers families an easy-to-use eligibility screener where someone can enter just a few pieces of information about their child, household, and circumstances to then find out which programs they may be eligible for so they can begin the next steps of enrollment. Families can check to see what services they may be eligible for by clicking here.
- SC Thrive connects people to crucial benefits — from food security and healthcare resources to financial wellness and more. To find easy access to these resources and to see if you qualify, visit https://scthrive.org/.
- Adults and children in low-income households may qualify for help paying medical bills. South Carolina’s Medicaid program is called Healthy Connections. You must apply to find out if you’re eligible, and pregnant women and families with children who need medical care are encouraged to apply. To check your eligibility, visit here.
- WIC is for pregnant women, infants, children under age 5, and postpartum women for 6 months after birth and up to 1 year if they are breastfeeding. WIC provides nutrition education, nutritious foods, breastfeeding support, and other services free of charge to those who qualify. Check your eligibility here.
If you are currently homeless or looking for shelter, check out directory of shelters across the state here.