how do you expect me to pay for this???


i had a patient discharged with about 5 medications. the patient said to me, how do you expect me to pay for this? i know the ecomony is very bad , and i just don't know what to say when people say this to me. i have had this said to me many times. i just don't know what to say , for some reason people think i write the perscriptions and should help them pay for them. has this ever been said to you and what do you say? i wish i could help , but i can't.

Whispera, MSN, RN

3,458 Posts

Specializes in psych, addictions, hospice, education.

Paying for medications is a very difficult thing. There are some places that fill certain prescriptions for not much money. Sometimes not much money is still too much though. There's a store near me that will fill prescriptions for some drugs for free. People can get samples from doctors. Also, all drug companies have programs where people who can't afford their meds can get them for free. Check out That doesn't help the person who is discharged and has no money, transportation, or is still to sick to go on an errand to the pharmacy!

ohmeowzer RN, RN

2,306 Posts

Specializes in ob/gyn med /surg.

we had the program where you could get 3 days free and that was cut out . the ecomony is hurting our hospital. i do love your suggestions thank you

Specializes in ER, IICU, PCU, PACU, EMS. Has 17 years experience.

We normally have a social worker consulted prior to discharge who assists the patient with this type of situation.

Do you have a resource like that at your hospital?


127 Posts

Specializes in School Nursing, Pedi., Critical Care.

Does your hospital have a social worker that can help? What does the doc say that wrote the prescriptions? Are their generic alternatives? I work at a very large county hospital so our social worker can get a medication voucher to pay for patients 'important' meds.

eriksoln, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 2,636 Posts

Specializes in M/S, Travel Nursing, Pulmonary. Has 15 years experience.

I have had it said to me. Many times. I put in for a stat Social Services consult and document it. After that, I suggest the pt. take the generic and give the educational form on how to save money when purchasing medications routinely. One of the best suggestions on that form was using the mail order system. You get your meds delivered to your door, get a 3 month supply and pay less overall than what you would have paid getting the script filled month by month (a lot too, about 30%).

Beyond that, although I feel bad, I dont let people make it my burden to budget their money. A lot of the people who said "I cant buy my medications" were admitted IVDA and smokers..........I gaurantee they dont put down the Marlboro so they can get the antibiotics. I know, I sound jaded, but I'd go crazy taking on other people's burdens for them. I can only help so much. I dont offer accounting services.

ohmeowzer RN, RN

2,306 Posts

Specializes in ob/gyn med /surg.

i asked the social worker to come up and she suggested ( and i find this dumb) maybe they have a relative they can barrow money from. good heavens i could say that. lol... useless .. i do think our social worker will be laid off next.. she does nothing..


63 Posts

Fact is for a lot of folks living paycheck to paycheck and don't prepare for retirement, medical expenses are tough no matter the economic conditions.

This hasn't been said to me as I am not a nurse yet, but I would probably just suggest they make payments over time if they cannot pay upfront for it, I'm sure they could also use visa/mastercard or borrow from relatives.

Your best bet might be say something along the lines of 'there are more important things than money'.

pagandeva2000, LPN

7,984 Posts

Specializes in Community Health, Med-Surg, Home Health.

I work for a city hospital where self pay patients can receive their prescriptions at our hospital for $2. Anyone with insurance is referred to outside pharmacies. Even with this, we have some that state they they cannot pay.

We also have difficulty with obtaining affordable Diabetic Glucometers. Our facility obtains glucometers from various companies which are given to the patients for free, but I never thought that was a good idea, because after they used the 10 free strips, they were back to where they started within a day. Sometimes, the companies would send a few packs of strips, other times, they didn't, because this is how the company profited.

Now, the Diabetic Care Manager discovered a company that sells the glucometer for $10, 50 stips for $20, 100 lancets for $5, control solution for $5 and we still get arguments. In fact, one of the patients reported me to her doctor because I didn't prove them with the free glucometer. When I explained to the doctor how this was counterproductive, she agreed.

Believe me, I KNOW that it is hard to care for a chronic illness, or even to obtain antibiotics, etc... However, I also believe that we have done all that we can humanly do in our hospital and if one compared the prices between what is paid by a non-insured person in an outside pharmacy versus what we have been trying to provide, they can take some responsibility for their illness. Heck, they are cutting down on our benefits as well. We are so tapped out because we take people whether they can pay or not that the well is almost dry.


1,051 Posts

Specializes in ER/Ortho.

You could send them to the hospital social worker who can help them find resources to pay for their meds. If you want to do something yourself you can help them apply for medicare, medicaid etc. You could also check into local resources, and make a list you could give patients. I know here in Dallas we have Parkland health clinics everywhere. Its very easy to qualify, and the co pay is only either $5 or $10 depending on the medication. In addition, walmart, has a lot of prescriptions for only $4 a month, and CVS $5 for a month supply. You can download a list of which meds are covered on their website, and look for the patient and let them know. I have also seen a lot of TV adds from the drug companies stating if you can pay for your medication then call we can help you. You might want to keep an eye for those, and write the number down to pass on to patients.

I am doing all those things, and I think its makes a big difference.

southern rn

235 Posts

Has 19 years experience.

Wal-mart has a generic prescription program for $4 dollars/each. K-mart has one for I believe $5. I am sure many of the other national chains do as well. There could be a possibility of changing a med to a generic common one to take advantage of this. I believe you can actually look on-line for a list of the meds covered on this;at least it used to be available. I used to carry one as a resource to give to pts. It might also be helpful to call the pt.'s doctors office. Many times they have samples from the drug reps they will give to someone in need to help them out. Telling someone to use a credit card probably isn't going to help in the long run, cause if you can't pay for one, you can't pay for the other. As our economy worsens, we will probably hear a lot more of this:(

Virgo_RN, BSN, RN

3,543 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac Telemetry, ED.

I'd get an MSW consult. There are tons of resources out there to assist people with the cost of prescriptions.

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