Patient Assistance Program for Diabetic Patients

Patient Assistance Program for Diabetic Patients

Patient Assistance Program for Diabetic Patients

Jerry Mees, RPh, CDCES, FACA, FADCES: You mentioned pharmacy programs. How much can they help? How has been your experience working with patients and companies with pharmacy programs? Sometimes we all get overwhelmed by coupons. What do you do with it?

Jennifer D. Goldman, PharmD, RPH, CDCES, BC-ADM, FCCP: Applying for patient-assistance programs is much easier than it was 10 years ago. Now you can do it online, so that patients can do it. We don’t have to do it for them. You and I have a little more time in our schedules. A lot of pharmacists who have a few minutes to spare have a lot of contact points with those patients, because many times those patients go to the pharmacy monthly or every 3 months. But if you only have a few minutes to direct patients to the website, they can go online, set up an account, and fill out the paperwork. The only thing they need to do is bring a prescription form and ask their provider to fill it out, sign it, and then send it. Sometimes they have to include tax information. Often, it is not copies of it. All they have to do is fill in the information.

The surprising thing is that in the past, many patient-assistance programs were only for people who didn’t have insurance. But we both know that there are people who are underinsured, have to pay deductibles, or are in that Medicare donut hole. Patient-assistance programs will provide free medicines to many patients, regardless of whether they have income or insurance.

Jerry Mees, RPh, CDCES, FACA, FADCES: Not long ago, you told me about someone who thought they made too much money to get any help. In the family situation, they qualified when no one thought they would.

Jennifer D. Goldman, PharmD, RPH, CDCES, BC-ADM, FCCP: Absolutely. This is surprising. This is the only way to know what the income limit is. In that case, the couple had earned $70,000, but still could not afford their medications and were able to apply. This is definitely an option. If you don’t have that kind of income, there are other programs in which you can get extra help or more government assistance. Pharmacists can lead patients to find that information.

Jerry Mees, RPh, CDCES, FACA, FADCES: We love our patients. We want to help everyone. No wonder we are the most trusted and preferred profession in the world. We give everything for free, but we take it upon ourselves to spend this time. If I can throw a nugget for my pharmacists, they have to start over – even some are made up – and show them where the website is and what they need to do with your form and what need to be done, but let them do the leg work. Put some of it on them so that they’re working, they’re saving money, and you don’t have to do everything. Be the guide on the side. Let them do a lot of the legwork. It does make a difference. Then you can help them. That’s great. New insulin companies are making things more affordable with some of their own benefits. In many cases, people are not aware of it – even the pharmacist.

Jennifer D. Goldman, PharmD, RPH, CDCES, BC-ADM, FCCP: Depending on the company, major insulin companies have programs where, with or without insurance, you will pay no more than $35 or $99 per month for insulin.

Jerry Mees, RPh, CDCES, FACA, FADCES: This is something that we should all be aware of in our daily practice.

Edited transcript for clarity.

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