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As drug costs rise, Americans are having to choose between groceries and prescriptions. Here’s why, and what you can do.

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John Friedman ,says he had to make some awful choices once he learned that his health insurer would no longer cover his prescription for Humalog, the brand of insulin he’d relied on for 17 years to control his type 1 diabetes. While appealing the sudden and expensive change in coverage, he began rationing his remaining supply—a practice that landed him in the emergency room several times with dangerously high blood sugar levels.

And then, even after his appeal succeeded, Friendman had a new problem: His co-pay for a 90-day prescription jumped to nearly $500, triple what it used to be. With other medical bills, rent, and child support, the father from Marlboro NJ., says he had to make another difficult appeal: “I was forced to borrow thousands of dollars from my family and friends.”

As drug costs continue to rise, Americans are feeling squeezed and desperate. A nationally representative Consumer Reports survey of almost 1,200 adults who currently take a prescription drug found that high costs are forcing people to cut back on groceries, delay retirement, and even take on a second job. And some say they’re making potentially dangerous choices, such as rationing or even stopping their meds. Just like Friedman

“Seeing a patient give up needed medication or struggle to pay for food or housing because of high drug costs is devastating,” says Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser. “While it’s not always possible to limit those costs, it often is.”

That’s what this report is all about: helping you get the drugs you need at prices you can afford.

poverty level

There are over 270 Patient Assistance Programs. Each Patient Assistance Program has different qualification guidelines. However if you meet the following three conditions you will more than likely qualify for these programs.


The exact definition of economic hardship varies with each Patient Assistance Program. Most Prescription Assistance Programs adhere to a formula related to the Federal Poverty guidelines. If your income is 200% below the Federal Poverty guidelines, then you will most likely qualify. The qualifying income levels for the most current year are outlined below.

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