Prescription Assistance Programs: Health Information for Older People

I need help paying for my prescriptions. I heard an ad on the radio for a number to call to see if you qualify for free prescriptions. When I called, they said I was eligible, but I had to pay a pretty big fee. Is this a scam?

Prescription assistance programs, or PAPs, enable people who can’t afford to pay for their medications to get them for free or a reduced price. Typically, the programs are sponsored by prescription drug companies or your state. Your financial situation, the cost of the drugs, and whether you have other prescription drug coverage help determine whether you qualify for a prescription assistance program.

Emails, ads, and websites for companies that guarantee free or low-cost prescription drugs for a hefty fee upfront are scams. You are paying for information and applications that are available for free. And even if the company applies to legitimate programs on your behalf, you still may be turned down for the prescription assistance program.

If you think you may be eligible for free or low-cost prescription drugs, you don’t have to pay to find out. Ask your physician or pharmacist, or visit one of the websites on this page. For example, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) helps consumers find prescription drug coverage. After you enter the prescription medicines you take and answer several questions about your prescription and financial situation, the site directs you to programs you may be eligible for. You can apply online, or you can ask your health care provider to do it for you. Either way, health care providers usually need to approve applications. If you need information on free or low-cost providers and clinics in your area, visit the federal Health Resources and Services Administration or use PPA’s Free Clinic Finder. While all Medicare patients can search for Medicare Part D plans on the internet, those who may qualify for extra help can find more information from the Social Security Administration.

If you don’t have a computer at home, ask a trusted family member or friend if they can help, and talk to your doctor.

Who Cares About Prescription Assistance Programs?

Finding a PAP

Partnership for Prescription Assistance
1-888-477-2669

Access to Benefits Coalition

RxAssist

For Medicare Beneficiaries

Social Security Administration
ssa.gov/prescriptionhelp
1-800-772-1213
(TTY: 1-800-325-0778)

Finding a Free or Low-cost Clinic

Health Resources and Services Administration
1-888-275-4772
(TTY: 1-877-489-4772)

Partnership for Prescription Assistance Free Clinic Finder
1-888-477-2669