United Way offers help with prescription cost assistance

CNJ photo illustration: Liliana Castillo The United Way of Eastern New Mexico can connect users of prescription drugs with cost assistance programs from various pharmaceutical companies.

Liliana Castillo

United Way of Eastern New Mexico can help connect people with prescription drug cost assistance.

Volunteers at the nonprofit have been trained on a computer program that allows them to help people apply for assistance through several assistance programs.

Erinn Burch, executive director of UW, said most pharmaceutical companies have an assistance program but many users of prescribed drugs are unaware of them or believe they don’t qualify.

“Each company has its own program and own requirements,” Burch said.

Burch said on occasion, people searching for help find out there is a generic version of their drug that is available for $4 at Wal-Mart.

UW volunteers also have a list of prescription drugs that have an associated cost assistance program that they can quickly check.

If it’s not on the list, other assistance programs can be found.

“We look for the program that can help the most,” Burch said.

Burch said even before someone who comes in for help finds out if they apply, they can receive a $300 voucher to help pay for their medicine until they find out if they qualify.

Burch said staff at UW have been trained on the program since January and so far have helped less than 10 people.

“We’re hoping to get more people (to) come through and use the program,” Burch said.

Burch said the state was looking for more sites to operate the computer program and operating the program was in-line with UW mission of helping people in the community.

“We just know through 211 that plenty of folks are in financial hardship and needing help with their utilities and needing help with prescriptions,” Burch said. “This is one avenue to keep more money in their pocket. We’re always looking for ways to help people connect with stuff like that. It makes keeping roof over their head, keeping the lights on more possible.”

Burch said the program is targeted toward people who don’t have health insurance or prescription drug coverage.

“It’s for people kind of in the middle who don’t have Medicaid. People who facing a medical dilemma can really sink their boat,” she said.