The skyrocketing cost of anything related to medical needs can be challenging to anyone on a low income budget. However, there a good number of programs and opportunities for seniors on a budget to assist in obtaining needed medical supplies. In this article, we will review some of these programs and how to qualify for them.
Whether it’s wheelchairs, walkers or hospital beds, medical equipment is not always covered under Medicare. In addition there are incontinence issues and diabetic supplies that are often needed that can easily break the budget. Let’s review some options for getting these needs met.
The most obvious solution to obtaining durable medical equipment such as a wheelchair or walker is to use your Medicare Part B Plan. These items are covered as long as a doctor has ordered them. Start with your primary care doctor and he or she can start you on the right path. You will need a prescription or “orders” for these items. They may be fully or only partially covered.
Local Agency on Aging
There are often non-profit organizations that you can find locally. Check with the senior center in your community. Many times they know of charities or programs to assist the elderly. In addition, check with your county as they often know of resources available to seniors. Certain religious organizations also offer charitable donations to assist the low income elderly. Some programs will give you the needed equipment while others give them out on loan.
Check for State Programs
Surprisingly, each state has unique programs to assist seniors. The best way to find what programs are available in your state, is to go to to the website: lowincomerelief. Here you will find a list of programs by state that should be of help to you. If you don’t have access to the internet, check with a loved one or your local senior center. Even your local library can help. They often have computers and internet access and even volunteers to assist.
Additionally, all 50 states have a program called Assistive Technology Project. Each state will have varying amounts and items available. For example, some of the items available include sensory aids, durable medical equipment and mobility devices. Also,daily living aids and even computer hardware may be available. This program is based on donations and loans. All items are refurbished, sterilized and tested. You can find a list with phone numbers for the Assistive Technology Project on lowincomerelief. or payingfor seniorcare websites.
Low Interest Loans and Grants
Some states have low interest loans and even grants for the medically needy. The funding for these types of programs is difficult to come by. Once the state has funds available, it won’t become public knowledge. You need to ask and keep asking for this type of help. Sometimes, you can get items needed at no cost (a grant) or a low interest loan may be given.
Goodwill is another great resource for medical equipment and supplies. They often have equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs and canes at a low price. Portable commodes are also often donated to Goodwill. Naturally, these are used items so you will want to take them home and sterilize them. In addition to your local Goodwill, visit their website, goodwillhomemedical.org. There, you will find all manner of medical equipment and supplies. You may have to call for a price on some items.
Incontinence supplies are also available on the Goodwill website. If you purchase more than $50 worth of products, shipping will be free of charge.
Medical Loan Closet
As the title suggests, this an equipment loan program. A medical loan closet is often made available through organizations such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army. In addition, there may be other local charities or churches that have a medical loan closet. Depending on donations all kinds of equipment may be available. Items are loaned out for a specific time period and will need to be returned. You may need to apply for this type of help. If you do, be sure to bring proof of your income. Also, if you have any medical insurance bring your card with you. While Medical Loans are free to use, keep in mind that any donation, even a small one is greatly appreciated.
There are also national foundations that offer assistance to the medically needy. However, they are usually disease specific. For example, there are foundations for those with ALS or muscular dystrophy. For internet links to these foundations, you can visit payingforseniorcare.com.
Supplies for Diabetics
There are assistance programs available to low income seniors with diabetes. Each program will have their own unique requirements for financial assistance. Here we will review some of the programs and requirements for assistance. Following are a number of pharmaceutical companies that offer free medication.
Abbot Diabetes Care
Abbot Diabetes Care is a good place to start. They offer medication as well as blood glucose monitors. Even those who have insurance may qualify. Their contact number is 1-800-292-6363. You are welcome to call and ask about their financial assistance program.
BD Medical Supplies Devices and Technology
BD offers a program that will provide syringes. You can either obtain them at a lower cost or even receive a voucher for free product. Call 1-866-818-6906 to see what you need to do in order to qualify.
Eli Lily has a number of insulin products that are offered. If you are having difficulty paying for insulin, they may be able to help. You may obtain a free voucher by calling their Lily Cares number. It is 1-855-559-8783. In addition, Eli Lily has a kit for emergencies called Glucagon that you may be able to get.
Glaxo Smith Kline
Glaxo Smith Kline has a program called Bridge to Access. This program is designed to assist very low income individuals with a payment arrangement so they can afford their medication. If you have Type 2 Diabetes and have been prescribes one of their medications, call 1-866-728-4368 and see how to apply.
Medtronic Mini Med
Medtronic Mini Med has a program that offers financial help for diabetes patients. You can receive pumps and other equipment as well as training in using them. A great program for those with Type 2 diabetes. Call 1-800-646-4633 to find out about their financial assistance program.
More Companies to Choose
In addition to the above, there are more companies to look into. For example check out Merck at 1-800-727-5400. Sanofi also offers help at 1-888-847-4877. Novartis also has a program for elderly patients. Call them at 1-800-277-2254. Also try Norvo Nordisk at 1-866-310-7549. Lastly, check into Pfizer. Their number is 1-800-707-8990.
Depending on your prescribed medication, you should be able to find at least some financial help with one of the above companies.
Non Profit Organizations
If assistance cannot be found directly with the drug company, you may check with non profit organizations. Their resources may be more limited but if you have exhausted all other means, they may be able to help. In order to apply for help, you must provide income proof and any doctors orders or prescriptions you have. Below are some of the programs you can check.
RX Hope–may require co-pay. Call 1-877-267-0517.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance–No cost. Check their website.
Needy Meds–Helpline. Call 1-800-503-6897.
RX Assist–Website for free diabetic care and supplies.
Most of the above programs determine need based on the income guidelines referred to as the Federal Poverty Level.
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