Money Saving Hacks for Those with COPD

COPD can feel like a bank-breaking diagnosis considering it requires medication that many have to take daily. Too often, patients are choosing between their medication and saving money.

The good news is that health and money don’t need to be an either-or scenario. You can hold onto both.

We reached out to the Facebook community to ask those living with COPD how they financially manage the diagnosis. We asked for your best tips, and more than 60 of you shared your money-saving hacks.

Here’s what you had to say.

“I get manufacturers coupons.”

More than a few of you recommend coupons as the top cost-cutting measure. The best source is to explore the website of the manufacturer of your inhaler, where deeply discounted coupons are often available. Like anything, a good web search can often net solid results.

“I always find coupons to help bring the cost down. I am so, so thankful.”

“I get $10 coupons online from the makers of Breo and Incruse Ellipta inhalers.”

“I look for coupons online from the pharmaceutical company.”

“I get manufacturers coupons.”

“Contact the drug company directly...”

A few of you suggested contacting the drug company directly to ask for assistance. Just like doctors, many times the companies will offer deep discounts if they know that an individual—not an insurance company—is paying for their products. Just make sure to send your email to the right person. If you can, call the company and get the name and email of the person or department who or that would handle such requests. The return time will be much quicker if your request gets into the right hands sooner.

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“If you qualify, you can receive assistance from the manufacturer. I don’t have prescription insurance and I get my inhalers free. Just search patient assistance and the name of the medicine.”

“You might have success if you contact the drug companies directly for rebates or assistance programs.”

“Always ask your doc for samples!”

It’s so simple, but how many of us haven’t thought to ask the doctor for a sample? Doctors often have an overflowing supply of medicine, all of which have a use-by date and need to be consumed. Samples come at no cost to your doctor, so it’s very little trouble for him to distribute extras to his or her patients.

“Every time I see my pulmonologist, he gives me samples of Stiolto inhalers, which would otherwise cost $40 a month.”

“Always ask your doc for samples!”

“I ordered from a Canadian pharmacy.”

Sadly, the U.S. is one of the most expensive countries when it comes to medicine. Many of you shared that buying online from Canada is one way to save big. Plus, if you travel to other countries for work or fun, you can often pop into a pharmacy—sometimes even in the airport—and buy inhalers at a much cheaper cost and without a prescription. Just be sure to check with your doctor that the drugs you are buying are in fact what you should be taking.

“I get what I can from a Canadian pharmacy. It’s much less expensive than the co-pays with insurance.”

“I ordered from a Canadian pharmacy. I buy Anoro and Daliresp, and this saves me $600 to $800 every 3 months. I checked on legality first. Wisconsin buys drugs for state plans from Canada, so they can't make it illegal!”

“I use online overseas pharmacies like All Day Chemist. The biggest obstacle with this method is finding out what your drug is called in other countries.”

“You can get a generic brand of an emergency inhaler.”

It’s worth checking out to see if a generic brand of inhaler works for you. Granted, by some accounts, there are only two generic inhalers on the market right now. Teva’s Levalbuterol Tartarate Inhalation Aerosol was the first.

“You can get a generic brand of an emergency inhaler. Make sure your doctor allows generic on your Albuterol emergency inhaler.”

“I’m fortunate to receive Medicare help with my prescriptions.”

For those who quality—that is, are age 65 and older and eligible for Social Security—Medicare is a great option. With Medicare, drug costs are significantly cheaper. The only catch is that going on Medicare often means giving up any other medical insurance you might have had previously.

“I’m on Medicare and gave up my AARP United Health insurance. The most I pay is $7.50 for my Advair HFA. I recently started using OptumRx and ordering three months' worth of meds at a time and am saving even more.”

“I’m fortunate to receive Medicare help with my prescriptions. My Medicare D plan allows me to buy three months at a time for the same price as one. Thank goodness! I'm 75 and on lots of prescription meds, so this is really helpful! Otherwise, I don’t know what I’d do.”

“Look into getting set up with a pooled trust.”

For those who are close to receiving Medicare benefits but have additional money coming in, say from a divorce settlement or inheritance, that precludes them from receiving Medicare, then a pooled trust is a way to rearrange funds legally to help people qualify for the care they need.

“To save in general on your meds and especially your doctor visits if you are low income and barely qualify for the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program, or QMB program, look into getting set up with a pooled trust. Do your homework on what a pooled trust is and how it may help you.”

“Consider reaching out to your healthcare provider’s office for assistance.”

Insurance. Co-pays. Coupons. It can all be a lot to take on, especially if the COPD diagnosis is new for you. If all of this feels overwhelming, don’t forget that you can call or schedule an in-person appointment with your healthcare provider to ask more questions and find out how to make all your benefits work for you.

“For anyone reading who may be confused with insurance coverage and programs like these, consider reaching out to your healthcare provider’s office for assistance. Sometimes they have case managers or financial counselors who are well informed on these issues and can help navigate you to where you need to go!”

We want to say thank you to everyone who shared money-saving tips. We appreciate you.

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