Consumer Reports: How to get free medications while out of work

Millions of Americans haven't just lost their paychecks, they've also lost their health insurance.

Without insurance, many can't afford their prescriptions but Consumer Reports has some way you might be able to get affordable, even free medicine, without coverage.

Just a few months ago, Dustin Quinn worked at the front desk of a hotel, but due to the coronavirus, she's become one of the millions of Americans who've lost their jobs.

"Pretty hard you know, not knowing where my food is going to come from. How I'm going to get to pay for my medicine," she said.

"Many people may not know this, but there are multiple ways that you can actually get prescription meds for a very low and affordable price or even free," said Lisa Gill of Consumer Reports.

First ask your pharmacist about all discounts or hardship programs that might be offered by drug manufacturers or even the pharmacy itself.

Some pharmacies partner with community health centers that also offer payment resources.

"A lot of pharmacies both independent and large ones, like Walgreens, participate in a federal program called 340B, which allows them to partner with publicly supported community health centers that offer significantly reduced-cost drugs to people in need," said Gill.

If you strike out at your pharmacy, enrolling in a drug company's program could be an option.

"Almost all pharmaceutical manufacturers have programs to help people without insurance who qualify to help people get the medications they need at no charge," said Gill.

As for Quinn, she was eventually able to get her medication by signing up for Medicaid.

"Before Medicaid I would have paid well over $100. I'm not sure the exact amount, but well over $100. With Medicaid, they pay all of it besides a $2 co-pay," she said.

If you can't qualify for free medications, Consumer Reports said you might consider low-cost generics from a big box pharmacy. Walmart, for example, has long featured a $4 per month or a $10 per three month program for hundreds of generic drugs.
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