Programs help you stay on diabetes medicines and out of the hospital
Having diabetes is expensive. The American Diabetes Association says health care expenses for people with diabetes average at $11,744 a year. That's more than twice the amount spent by people without diabetes.
It's also why most of the people Pharmacist Mary Wulf works with have diabetes. As part of Allina Hospitals & Clinics' Prescription Assistance Program, she says, "We help people stay on their meds and keep out of the hospital."
Allina health care providers can refer their patients to the Prescription Assistance Program through a letter in Allina's electronic medical record system. If you're not sure you can pay for a prescription, Wulf says, "just ask for a referral. You'd be surprised by how many people are in the same situation."
In 2009, the Prescription Assistance Program received 806 referrals. In 2010, that number increased to 1,167. So far in 2011, the program has received more than 140 referrals.
"We're best able to serve those without health insurance because of pharmacy company guidelines," says Wulf. "We also help Medicare Part D patients appeal for help when they are in the donut hole and have to pay full price."
Free medicine or insulin from drug companies
Wulf helps patients apply for free or reduced-cost medicine from drug companies. You can do it on your own, but "make sure every box is checked and all your Ts are crossed," she says. "If you miss one detail in your application, they'll mail it back to you."
These drug companies offer free diabetes medicine or insulin to people who meet certain guidelines.
||A 90-day supply of Byetta® or Symlin® is sent to your doctor's office or to your home.
||You cannot have any private coverage, Medicare Part D, Medicaid, or any other form of prescription coverage. Your income should be below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
||Amylin Patient Assistance Program: amylin.com
|Sanofi-Aventis as part of the Partnership for Prescription Assistance
||A 90-day supply of Lantus® or Apidra® insulin is sent to your doctor's office.
||You cannot have prescription insurance or be eligible for any federal or state programs. Your income should be below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
||Partnership for Prescription Assistance: pparx.org
|Eli Lilly and Company's Lilly Cares Program
||A 120-day supply of Humalog® or Humulin® is sent to your doctor's office.
||You cannot have prescription insurance or be eligible for any government programs. Your income should be below 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
||Lilly Cares: lillycares.com
|Novo Nordisk Diabetes Patient Assistance Program
||A 90-day supply of Levemir, Novolin, NovoLog or Victoza is sent to your doctor's office.
||You cannot have prescription insurance or qualify for government programs. Your income should be below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
||Novo Nordisk Diabetes Patient Assistance Program: novonordisk-us.com
What is the federal poverty level?
Many financial assistance programs say that you need to be a certain percentage below the federal poverty level to receive the help they offer.
Federal poverty guidelines are set each year by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. These guidelines help determine eligibility for a many programs, including ones that help pay for diabetes care.
The Department of Health and Human Services has more details about poverty guidelines at aspe.hhs.gov/poverty.
$4 generics from pharmacies
If you have health insurance, Allina Prescription Assistance Program staff recommends checking into the $4 generic medicine programs offered by large retail pharmacy chains. The programs commonly include these diabetes drugs: chlorpropamide, glimepiride, glipizide, glyburide, metformin.
You can get a 30-day supply for $4 and a 90-day supply for $10 from these pharmacy chains (medicine lists and more details are available online).
Kmart Pharmacy (Kmart.com/pharmacy) offers a 90-day supply of generic diabetes drugs for $10.
Inexpensive diabetes supplies online
Allina Prescription Assistance Program staff also bargain hunt for diabetes supplies.
Wulf recently started recommending Rx Outreach, an online mail order pharmacy. "They have the least expensive test strips we've found," she says.
For more details, go to RxOutreach.org/Diabetic.
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Allina Financial Assistance Services
Allina Health Pharmacy
Where can I get help in managing my diabetes?
Source: Allina Prescription Assistance Program; National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
First published: 03/03/2011
Last updated: 03/03/2011
Reviewed by: Mary Frederick, RN, MS, CDE, diabetes program manager, Allina Medical Clinic - Diabetes Education; Mary C. Wulf, pharmacist, Allina Prescription Assistance Program