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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The struggling economy along with soaring health care costs is forcing many people to make a tough choice between buying medicine or other necessities.

But 3 On Your Side consumer reporter Jim Donovan finds there may be ways to get your prescriptions for less, maybe even free.

When Haralee Weintraub was diagnosed with breast cancer, it wasn’t just physically and emotionally devastating but also financially, even though she had insurance.

“It ended up costing us 20,000 dollars out of pocket from co-pays and drugs,” said Weintraub.

At times she even considered giving up medications.

“It was very scary to have to think that “do, I really need this one pill that might ease my nausea, is over fifty dollars. How nauseous am I? And that’s not great,” said Weintrab.

And many are facing the same problem.

“Unfortunately people are put in the tight position of choosing between two things they need like medicine and food,” said Seth Ginsberg with Global Healthy Living Foundation.

But there may be help. A growing number of state and local governments, non-profit agencies and businesses offer co-pay cards or coupons to help people like Haralee. Some are free. Others have a fee.

“Manufacturers are making a lot of effort to allow patients to stay on medicine,” said Ginsberg.

These cards and coupons currently cover nearly 300 medications and anyone with insurance can use them.

Just give it to your pharmacist and the co-pay discount comes off at the register.

Haralee saves fifty dollars every time she gets her Lunesta.

“So I’m saving $600 a year,” said Weintraub.

Voorhees dermatologist, David Finkelstein gets the cards and gives them to patients.

“I don’t know what one insurance might cover or not for someone. So if I have a coupon, I give it to them,” said Dr. Finkelstein.

His patient Valerie Samuels says every little bit helps.

“I’m thinking about it, ok how much is this medication going to to cost. How much am I gonna come out my pocket today? So when he gave me the coupon, I was just like, wonderful,” said Samuels.

If your doctor doesn’t have co-pay cards or coupons, try checking with the manufacturer of your medication.

You can also turn to non profit groups like NeedyMeds for help. They list several resources that offer patient payment assistance and discount cards.



Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3

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