Return to Previous Page

Affording Medications in a Tough Economy

Allergy and Asthma image

Healthcare is a hot topic in today’s economy. Whether you are in Congress debating the bill or a family forced to make healthcare decisions based on your financial factors, you have probably been touched by the crisis. One way families are saving money is by eliminating prescriptions.

However, forgoing asthma and allergy medications could result in a devastating and very expensive outcome. Asthma and allergies are chronic conditions that require ongoing management. Your doctor prescribed your medications based on your specific needs and to help you keep symptoms under control. Straying from the plan could lead to severe asthma and allergy symptoms and the need for costly emergency room treatment.

The Cost of Not Taking Your Medication
Your asthma action plan may include long-term and quick-relief medications. Both are important in symptom control. Long-term controller medications are taken on a regular basis (typically daily) to control airway inflammation and treat symptoms. Quick-relief medications are used to provide temporary relief of symptoms. Uncontrolled asthma can lead to missed work or school, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and even death.

Because immunotherapy is successful by steadily increasing doses of allergens in your body, discontinuing treatments will send you back to square one in getting relief and will cost you more over time.

Many people with allergies take allergy shots (immunotherapy) to relieve symptoms. There are two phases to immunotherapy: buildup and maintenance. The buildup phase, generally ranging three to six months, involves receiving injections with increasing amounts of the allergens. The maintenance phase begins when the most effective dose is reached.

Because immunotherapy is successful by steadily increasing doses of allergens in your body, discontinuing treatments will send you back to square one in getting relief and will cost you more over time. Moreover, ongoing allergy symptoms could result in sinus infections or worsening asthma.

Do not be afraid to talk to your doctor about prescription costs. He or she may be able to recommend generics, offer samples, or direct you to assistance programs that can help you stay on track with your treatment plan.

Tips for Finding Low-Cost Medications
If you need additional assistance, here are some things you can do when you can’t afford your medication:

  • Ask your doctor if the medication’s manufacturer offers rebates, discount cards, or coupons.
  • The Partnership for Prescription Assistance is an example of a prescription assistance program that helps people who qualify get medications for a minimal charge or even free. To learn more, call (888) 477-2669 or visit pparx.org.
  • Many state governments offer drug discount or senior assistance programs.
  • Often, insurance plan mail-order pharmacies are less expensive than a storefront pharmacy. However, because of the processing time, this option is not ideal if you need a prescription quickly.
  • If your insurance plan does not require you to go to a certain pharmacy, shop around. Many pharmacies charge different amounts for the same prescriptions.
  • Check with your doctor to see if splitting pills is an option to save you money.

The Bottom Line
Taking your medication is important. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble paying for the medicines you need.

 

Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, www.aaaai.org

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, March/April 2010.