Prescription Assistance ProgramsIf you ever flip on the TV, you’ve probably seen commercials advertising free or low-cost prescription medicines. If you’re like most people, you might be a bit skeptical of these ads. After all, is there really anything that’s truly free?

The truth is that there are actually many good programs out there that can help you get your medications at a reduced rate, or even for free. These programs work by subsidizing the cost of your medications through government or non-profit organizations. Some other programs work as public relations for for-profit drug companies. Both can benefit certain people.

Programs run by government and non-profits

These programs can vary by state. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, currently 38 states have enacted laws to create some form of prescription assistance. These programs are mostly geared towards older adults, those who are disabled, or those in financial need. The specifics vary by state, so to find out what your state offers, visit the NCSL page.

Programs run by drug companies

If you’re currently taking a medication and you’d like to get at a discounted rate, the best way to proceed is by visiting the drug company’s website. Most companies that offer a prescription assistance program will have a downloadable application, which usually requires your doctor to fill out a portion. You mail in the application, and if the company determines that you’re eligible, they might mail your medication to your home or to your healthcare provider’s office.

Drug discount cards

In addition, some states, nonprofits, and pharmacies offer drug discount cards. Some are free, and some can be purchased for an annual or monthly fee. Be careful when investigating drug discount cards, as many are scams. It’s best to go with a reputable organization such as AARP.

Getting started

It can be tough to wade through and apply for different prescription assistance programs, especially if you take a number of medications. Several groups offer free information and guidance. A few are:

Partnership for Prescription Assistance


National Center for Benefits