Saturday, November 18th, 2017

PHH to offer help with prescription costs

Posted: Friday, August 25, 2017

Whether it’s antibiotics for a sudden illness, or certain medications to manage a chronic health condition, being able to afford medicines can sometimes be challenging. For Huntington County residents needing assistance with necessary medications, the Free Health Clinic used to be an option. With the closure of the clinic earlier this year, though, resources became much thinner.

Starting in September, a new source of help will be available. The Parkview Medication Assistance Program, or MAP, serves as a link between the patient, the healthcare provider and pharmaceutical manufacturers for the purpose of providing prescription medications to uninsured or underinsured patients in need.

How the program works. MAP is a free service, and representatives will be available through Parkview Huntington Hospital. Patients who need assistance with prescription medication costs can apply to Parkview MAP through these representatives, who draw on pharmaceutical assistance programs through drug manufacturers, as well as product replacement and co-pay assistance programs.

The idea, explains Chelsea Johnson, medication assistance coordinator, is to connect people with resources that can help improve their situation: “We try to give them more options, to offer other avenues that they weren’t aware of before, such as manufacturer programs, or prescription coupons, or even recommendations on pharmacies that have the lowest prices. We want to find at least some piece of information that could help them.”

Anette Lane, MD, Parkview Physicians Group – Family Medicine, is the former medical director of the Huntington County Free Health Clinic. She notes that there is a tremendous need for this kind of support: “There are so many people who don’t really know where to turn for guidance when they find they can’t cover the cost of their medications. Parkview Huntington understood that and stepped in to make sure this service could be available for people who are having a tough time.”

Johnson and Jennifer Matson, MAP supervisor, assist people who need medication help for any of a variety of reasons. “Some patients we talk to have worked all their lives and are retired, and they’re embarrassed to ask for help, but they’re struggling to make ends meet,” says Johnson. “Others have lost their jobs, or they have a family member with cancer and can’t afford the costs of treatment. Maybe a parent is working two jobs but has no insurance, or there’s a gap in Medicaid. If their child becomes ill and needs an expensive antibiotic, they’re faced with the question of how to afford it.”

Matson and Johnson have also helped people in a bind because they’ve just moved to the state, or they’re living on Social Security or Disability with a stipend that can’t absorb the extra costs of treating an injury or illness. They often encounter people who have chronic medical conditions but can’t afford their maintenance medication and are taking smaller, ineffective doses to stretch their prescription. Matson and Johnson – who are both pharmacy technicians by training – especially want to help prevent multiple hospital stays for these people who could be at home and healthier if they could just afford their full medication doses.

Typically, physicians and hospital staff members refer patients to the Parkview MAP, but patients may also call directly. Eligibility is based on income and other criteria. The program is supported by funding from Parkview Huntington Hospital and Parkview Huntington Foundation. Most of the time, the MAP team works with patients via phone and mail, but patients may make appointments for in-person meetings.

Beginning in September, Matson will be available at Parkview Huntington Hospital from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays, and Johnson will be available at the hospital on Fridays during the same hours. For information, call (260) 266-4542 or (260) 248-9263.

Area residents can also come and meet the MAP team at Parkview Huntington’s health-and-wellness fair, Healthy Steps, on Saturday, October 7, from 7 to 11 a.m. at the hospital, 2001 Stults Road.

Jennifer Matson, left, and Chelsea Johnson, right are ready to work with Huntington County residents having trouble affording their necessary medications. Matson, supervisor of Parkview’s Medication Assistance Program (MAP), and Johnson, coordinator, will begin keeping office hours at Parkview Huntington Hospital in September to help connect uninsured and underinsured people to financial resources related to prescriptions.