How to Get Your Prescription Medications When You Have No Income

Woman talking to a pharmacist.

The following is present for informational purposes only.

When you’re unemployed with no regular income flowing to your bank account it can be hard to make ends meet. That’s especially true if you take prescription medications. The cost of prescription meds is on the rise, making it challenging to get what you need if you have no income. Even more challenging if you also have no insurance.

There are ways to get the medications you need though. And at little or no cost to you.

Contact the manufacturer

Some pharmaceutical companies offer prescription assistance for medications they manufacture. To qualify, you’ll most likely need your doctor’s written consent, as well as proof of your financial status. They may also want proof of your health insurance as these programs are often for those with no insurance or no prescription drug benefit through their insurance.

Connect with an aid organization

There are also a few organizations that can help:

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance can help if you don’t have prescription drug coverage and you meet certain qualifications. If you meet the qualifications, you can receive your medications for free or nearly free. You can easily find the information you need to submit your request on their website and they work with over 475 public and private programs, including pharmaceutical companies, to help people get their prescription medications.

Together RX Access is another service that helps you connect with programs to get your medications at little to no cost to you. They can also help you find access to other healthcare services. Their program offers the Together Rx Access Card that you can use at local pharmacies to receive the eligible discounts. It applies to both brand-name and generic medications. The card is free to get and free to use.

Needy Meds can help you find assistance for disease-specific programs. If you qualify for their programs, you can receive help for additional expenses like utility bills. You would qualify for a program like this if your health issues require utilities like electricity to run healthcare equipment or phone service to call 911. They also provide information on state sponsored programs under their “Government Programs” link on their homepage.

You can also access help through your local programs. Mental Health America will put you in contact with local and state services in your area. And your state Medicaid office can provide assistance for both medications and healthcare services.

The Medicare Part D Plan is a government assisted program that offers prescription drug coverage. It covers both brand-name and generic prescriptions and everyone who receives Medicare is eligible. There are no other qualifications. It works on its own, as just a prescription plan, or as a supplement to more comprehensive coverage like an HMO or PPO.

Other services you may find helpful include:

These programs will help with financial assistance if you have insurance and your co-pays are high. Even when you have no income, getting your medications is a priority for your health and wellbeing. Using these services will help you get the medications you need with little to no cost to you.

Should you ever use a loan to cover your prescriptions?

If you don't have adequate insurance, don't qualify for aid, and don't have the money necessary to pay out of pocket, then what?

Continuing to take your doctor prescribed medication is important. Your health and wellbeing should always come first. So the next step may be using some form of credit to help you get your medications.

It may be possible to take out a small personal loan to cover the costs of your prescriptions. However, unsecured loans often come with costly fees and high interest rates, since there's no collateral to make the loan more "secure" for lenders. Additionally, small loans are often more expensive on a per-dollar basis, as lenders raise fees and interest rates to make the loan worth the risk.

If you need to borrow money for your medications, you're much better off charging your prescriptions to a credit card. Your best bet is to use whichever of your credit cards that has the best terms. The lower the interest rate, the less the charges will cost you over time.

Some lenders, like CareCredit, offer special financing options for medical expenses. These credit cards sometimes come with a grace period, where no interest is charged. If you anticipate that you'll have the means to repay your debt quickly, you may want to look into one of these options.

That said, for many of these types of accounts the "grace period" is really a deferment on interest charges, where the interest starts accruing as soon as you starting borrowing money, and if you don't pay the debt in full before the deferment ends, all of that accrued interest is added to your total. That's why if you do choose to use special financing on medical expenses, you need to be very clear on the terms of the agreement. If you can't reasonably pay off your debt before the deferment ends, then that "grace period" isn't much of an advantage to you. 

For more tips on reducing the cost of prescription medication, check out our comprehensive guide to finding affordable medications.

Dealing with significant medical debt? See if a debt management plan can help bring balance to your budget.

Tagged in Managing medical bills and debt, Navigating change, Managing a loss of income

Emilie writes about overcoming debt, while balancing trying to eat healthy, stay fit, and have a little fun along the way. You can find more of her work at BurkeDoes.com.

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