Programs That Help Pay for Prescription Drugs

People can often get help with the cost of their medicines from public and private programs. Some of these programs let people buy drugs at discounted prices. Others help people who can’t afford any part of their medicine costs.

All the programs will make you complete an application form, and most will require information from your doctor. Step-by-step advice on how to do this is in Applying for a Patient Drug Assistance Program

Partnership for Prescription Assistance

Toll-free number: 1-888-4PPA-NOW (1-888-477-2669)

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) is a free service to help people who don’t have prescription drug coverage find assistance programs that are right for them. The service is run by a group of drug companies, health care providers, patient advocacy organizations, and community groups. PPA is connected to hundreds of patient assistance programs, including those offered by biopharmaceutical companies. They also have information on free drug discount cards funded by private companies, which can help reduce your costs for certain brand or generic drugs.

To find programs that may be helpful to you, call their toll-free number or fill out the confidential online form.

If you fill out the online form, your answers are quickly compared to the requirements for the different programs, and you’ll see a list of programs that might be able to help you. From there, you can download each program’s application form and learn how to apply. Phone and online services are available in Spanish or English.

Your doctor or nurse can also use the website to find programs for you. They may be able to complete the application forms for you and send them by e-mail or fax.

Scam Alert: There are people who call, email, or go door-to-door who say they’re with PPA and ask for money or personal information. PPA does not ask for money and doesn’t call or email people. Contact the PPA directly if someone does this to you.

NeedyMeds, Inc.

Toll-free number: 1-800-503-6897

The NeedyMeds website provides information about many drug assistance programs. It includes some of the same programs as the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, but in a format that might be simpler for some people to use.

NeedyMeds, Inc. only offers information about drug assistance programs. They do not help with problems or help you search for drug assistance programs.

NeedyMeds, Inc. also has its own drug discount card that you can print out for free online. It can be used in certain drugstores, but you can’t use it along with your insurance.

Scam Alert: There are lookalike websites that say they’re with NeedyMeds that ask for money. NeedyMeds does not ask for money for its information. Contact NeedyMeds if you see anything like this.


Website: (select Find Help)

Provided by the National Council on the Aging, BenefitsCheckUp is an online resource for people age 55 and older who find it hard to pay for their medicines, health care, utilities, food, and other basic needs. BenefitsCheckUp helps you find state, federal, and private benefits programs where you live. This resource includes programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

By answering questions about where you live, your income, and your medicines, this service can find drug assistance programs that might work for you.

The website also includes other questionnaires that search for programs to help with rent, food, housing, property taxes, and other needs.

Medicare and Medicaid Services

Toll-free number: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). English- and Spanish-speaking staff are available at this number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Medicare is the United States’ health insurance program for people age 65 or older, although certain younger people with disabilities might also qualify.

This federal government website can help you sign up for Medicare (if you’re 65 or older) and choose the right Medicare-approved prescription drug plan (called the Part D plan) based on where you live, your income, and the drugs you take. You can join a Part D plan during open enrollment if you already have Medicare Part A and/or Part B. If you had prescription coverage and recently lost it, you may be able to enroll at times other than open enrollment. Contact Medicare or check online to see if you can do this.

You may qualify for “Extra Help” if you have very limited income and assets but don’t get Medicaid. If you qualify for Extra Help, you may not have to pay a premium, deductible, or co-payments for Medicare Part D. You can apply or get more information about this by calling Social Security. Some people automatically get Extra Help and don’t need to apply, such as those who get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or those who already have full Medicaid and Medicare.

If you’re enrolled in a state pharmacy assistance program, including Medicaid, you will probably also be enrolled in Medicare Part D. If you have prescription drug coverage through your current health insurance or get discounts on your prescriptions through other programs, review your coverage closely to see if the Medicare drug plan will save you more money on your prescriptions.

If you don’t qualify for Extra Help, Medicare also keeps a list of drugs that are on private prescription drug assistance plans. You can find the list on their website at You can search by the drug name and find details on the programs and their contact information.

You can learn more details about the Medicare Part D drug plans and how to choose one in our document called Medicare Part D: Things People With Cancer May Want To Know. You can read it on our website, or call us to have a free copy mailed to you.

Medicare Access for Patients Rx


Medicare Access for Patients Rx, called MAPRx, links you to information about Medicare Part D, also called the Medicare Prescription Drug Program. It answers common questions about Medicare Part D, and has a state-by-state listing of other possible resources and programs.

MAPRx does not directly serve Medicare recipients, but it’s a good, easy-to-use source of information about Medicare and drug coverage. Free fact sheets can be downloaded from the website or from related website links.

Medicaid Services


Medicaid is a state-run program funded by the federal and state government. It helps people and families who have very limited incomes. Medicaid pays for health care costs, such as doctor visits, hospital visits, and prescription drugs. You can find eligibility requirements and general information at the website above.

State health departments

Because each state’s Medicaid program is run by that state, income cut-offs, asset limits, and benefits vary from one state to another. In some states, the program may have a different name (TennCare, Medi-Cal, etc.) Contact your State Health Department for more information on requirements and how to apply.

To find your State Health Department, check your local phone book or call the US Department of Health and Human Services at this toll-free number: 1-877-696-6775. You can also find it online at

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: March 28, 2017 Last Revised: June 12, 2017

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