Ask questions to make sure that your health isn#8217;t put in jeopardy

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

Getting something for nothing isn’t as easy as a specific TV commercial makes it seem. The something that I am referring to here is free, or nearly free, prescription drugs.

After trying very hard for more than a year to get major medical coverage at a price that I could afford, I finally did on Jan. 25.

Since the monthly premium is still very high, and I have not reached the age to receive any kind of benefits under the Medicare program, I thought that I would try to apply to that free prescription drug program called Partnership for Prescription Assistance, the one being advertised on TV by Montel Williams. Believe me, there is more to that program than the big orange bus shown in the commercial driving to your town to deliver your prescription drugs.


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I called the toll free number a month ago and spoke to a representative. She asked the name of my prescriptions, four to be exact. She then gave me the toll free phone number to call for an application for one of them, sent me an applications to register with PPA and another application to get the other drug. That’s when I learned that if you have multiple prescriptions, more than one manufacturer or pharmacy may be responsible for filling them.

The PPA application explained instructions in detail, which verified that each manufacturer’s application has its own instructions, mailing address and phone number. However, the two applications I received were similar and asked for proof of assets that included stocks, bonds, CDs, checking and savings account information; income information that included your monthly salary, wages, pension, Social Security, disability, unemployment, alimony and child support benefits and the income of all dependent persons in the household, but didn’t ask for any expenditures or financial obligations.

Even though I have no dependents living in my home, I couldn’t understand why companies would make the

request of dependents when it was I who was requesting the drugs.

After that section, the application stated that I must have no other means of paying for the drugs, which include any Medicare or Medicaid drug program, state-sponsored prescription drug assistance programs, employee, union retirement program drug coverage, military or veteran benefits or other private drug coverage programs.

The PPA application even stated that I would have to apply again in one year. Not only that, but it also stated that the manufacturer under the AstraZeneca Foundation had the right at any time and for any reason to request additional information and to suspend or discontinue its aid or assistance provided under its program.

This is where I wondered — would I be warned of a discontinuation in a reasonable amount of time so that I could make arrangements to not have an interruption in my drugs being delivered to me on time by some other means?

The last section stated that if an application is not filled out in full, it will be returned to the patient, which could delay approval. A physician’s section has to be completed also.

According to a representative at PPA, my insurance company’s discount card makes me ineligible to receive benefits from this service.

In my opinion, if anybody qualifies for this benefit, it would be worth it for them to ask other important questions to make sure they are getting medications when they need them so as not to put their health in jeopardy.

Wall is a former News-Herald reporter and regular contributor to this page.