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How to get free, discounted medication if you’ve lost your job

Pharmacies, drug manufacturers, community health centers offer resources

SAN ANTONIO – Millions of people who’ve lost their jobs due to coronavirus closures have also lost their health insurance, making it difficult to afford their prescription medications.

For Dustin Quinn, who worked at the front desk of a hotel, losing her paycheck has meant more tough questions.

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

For Quinn and others in the same predicament, there are resources.

“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 with Consumer Reports.

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Health advocates said to first ask your pharmacist about all discounts and hardship programs that may be offered by drug manufacturers or even the pharmacy itself.

Many pharmacies, including independents and large chains such as Walgreens, participate in a federal program called 340B. That allows them to partner with publicly-supported community health centers that offer significantly reduced-cost drugs to people in need.

If you strike out at your pharmacy, look into enrolling in a drug company’s program.

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

As for Dustin, she was eventually able to get her prescription meds by signing up for Medicaid.

“Before Medicaid, I would have paid well over $100,” she said. “With Medicaid, they pay all of it besides a $2 co-pay.”

If you don’t qualify for these options, it pays to shop around and to buy generics where available.

Walmart and HEB are among pharmacies that offer a long list of common generics for $4 for a 30-day supply.

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