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    How A Powerhouse Patient $ave$ Money By Julie Buyon

    By agebuzz Contributing Editor Julie Buyon


    We all know that healthcare can be very expensive, and for some people, it can cause significant financial hardship.  But there are many ways a Powerhouse Patient can reduce the cost of medications, get help with co-payments, as well as get a helping hand with the costs of living with a serious and/or chronic illness, including transportation to medical appointments, house cleaning, help with insurance premiums, housing costs and more. You just need to know where to look and from whom to ask for help.


    Spend Less on Your Medications 

    It may come as a shock, but the pharmaceutical companies that set sky-high retail prices for medications also offer huge discounts to some patients. Known as Patient Assistance Programs (aka Pharmaceutical Assistance Program or PAP), patients on certain drugs can lower their out-of-pocket costs significantly. And you don’t necessarily have to be below a particular income level to qualify for this benefit. Not all programs are available to Medicare beneficiaries, but it’s always a good idea to explore any potential cost savings.  You do not need to have a low income to use many of these programs – they just help lower your drug costs!


    Check out these quick ways of finding a Patient Assistance Program for a drug you take:



    Save Money on Your Costs Associated with a Specific Disease


    No matter what your illness, chances are there is a non-profit foundation or organization that can provide support, information, and resources for navigating the illness – including financial assistance. First, ask your healthcare provider for recommendations, as there may be multiple organizations and your provider can steer you towards the ones he or she has found to be most helpful for other patients. The following sites are great places to start doing your own research:


    • A great feature on NeedyMeds is their Diagnosis Information pages, which provide educational information and healthcare savings resources for those living with or caring for someone with specific diagnoses. It also lists organizations supporting those with that illness.
    • Click on the name of a disorder and the NORD (National Organization of Rare Disorders) database will provide information about the condition as well as links to any supporting organizations. NORD lists assistance programs to help patients obtain life-saving or life-sustaining medication they could not otherwise afford. These programs also might provide financial assistance with insurance premiums and copays, diagnostic testing assistance, and travel assistance for clinical trials or consultation with disease specialists.
    • Similarly, the Patient Advocate Foundation has a National Financial Resource Directory, which can filter by state, disease, age, and type of assistance needed (including transportation, support, education, scholarships, legal services, medication costs, housekeeping, and repairs, et al).
    • There’s a lot of assistance available to cancer patients and survivors. In addition to checking out supporting organizations specific to a type of cancer, check out these great directories of cancer support: The American Cancer Society, Cancer Care, and Nancy’s List for starters. (Even if you don’t have cancer, Nancy’s List is a wealth of information applicable to any patient.)


    A Helping Hand with Other Costs


    Did you know that you can get your house cleaned for free if you have cancer? Contact  Cleaning for a Reason. New England’s Hand to Heart Project is one of many programs across the country offering free massage therapy to patients. Need to travel to a faraway hospital for treatment? Stop by Joe’s House for help getting there and finding a place to stay nearby.  If a hotel is out of your budget, even with a discount through Joe’s House, Healthcare Hospitality Network can help match you with a host home and family for free or very low cost.


    Dial 211 for a free comprehensive source of information about local healthcare resources and services, available from hundreds of local organizations that are committed to serving their communities. You can also go to and type in your zip code to bring up any national, state, county, city, or other social service programs available in your neighborhood. This might include food, healthcare, transit, housing, legal assistance, and more to support you through an illness and lessen some of the expenses.


    Whether you’re taking medications to stay well, or in treatment to get well, why spend more than you need to?  


    Julie Buyon is a palliative care patient advocate. She has professional and personal expertise in assisting people with complex illnesses navigate the health care environment. Julie’s role is to help patients feel empowered, and her agebuzz posts are intended to make sure agebuzz readers have all the tools and info they need to advocate for themselves and their loved ones. Julie would love agebuzz readers to email her at julie@agebuzz.comwith any questions or problems encountered with the health care system, and she will do all she can to address those issues in upcoming blog posts. She also welcomes feedback regarding her advice or recommendations. Read all of Julie’s agebuzz posts here and get in touch with Julie now at