Web Producer: Jason Beisel
It's the doctor's responsibility to ask questions about your health, not your finances. When Dr. Mark Graves started asking patients about money, he got some surprising answers.
He found out two out of three of them weren't filling prescriptions because they couldn't afford it. So he figured out a way to ease the burden.
At 71, Billie Powell may seem healthy, but she has some serious medical problems. Some years ago, a case of breast cancer spread to her skull of all places. Medication is keeping the cancer at bay, but at a cost. The drug can cause osteoporosis. So her Oncologist prescribed the bone building drug Fosamax.
Medicare wouldn't pay for it, so she never filled the prescription. "So then Dr. Graves asked me if I was taking it and I said, 'i feel like i can't afford it.' 'wait a minute he said,'" Powell says.
"There are millions of dollars worth of drugs that could be given away in the city of Evansville every year and people just don't avail themselves to that opportunity," Dr. Graves says.
Now they can. With the help of his teenage sons, Dr. Graves created a website that shows you how to save money on prescription drugs. Fill out an on-line questionnaire and you're instantly told if you qualify for discounts offered by the manufacturers.
For instance, if you and your spouse make less than $24,000 a year you may be qualified. "There is almost reason not to get nearly a 75% reduction in the cost of your drugs," Dr. Graves says.
Patients with median incomes may not qualify to get free drugs, but the site can show them what kind of cheaper, equally effective drugs are out there.
As for Billie Powell, she filled out an application. "I mailed it in and my cancer medication went from over $200 a month to $12 a month using this prescription plan," Powell says.
She also gets the Fosamax sent to her home for free. So now she can take her cancer medication without worrying what it will do to her bones.
Dr. Graves has teamed up with two colleagues at Indiana University who are helping him gather information about patients who can't afford prescription drugs so they can hopefully someday present their findings to congress. So when you log on the site, you'll be asked to fill out a survey. To be taken to Dr. Graves website click here