The 340b Drug Discount Program was created by a federal law in 1990. Drug companies that want to sell drugs to Medicaid also must sell the same drugs at steep discounts to community health centers, certain other clinics, and many hospitals — and their patients.
As a result, simply by becoming a patient of a medical provider at most community health centers, almost anyone is eligible to buy insulin and other drugs at incredibly low 340b prices — forever (just see the provider about once a year to maintain a patient relationship).
You don’t need to stop seeing your current doctor, and for most health centers, there are no applications or income limits to get the low prices on insulin.
(Note: Because the health centers are independent nonprofits, and because they are allowed to mark-up the extremely low 340b prices in order to support the services they provide, some do limit the lowest prices with income limits or sliding scales. However, there are no such limitations in the federal 340b program itself, and most community health centers offer the low prices to all their patients. In any case, it’s good to check with the health centers near you.)
Especially for insulin, the 340b prices are extremely low. For example, the same 10 ml vial of Humalog that normally sells for about $350 costs just $2 to $25 through the 340b program.
Therefore, establishing a relationship with a community health center provider now is an excellent way to provide you or your child with cheap insulin (and a great safety net) for the rest of your/his/her life.
In general, anybody who sees a doctor (or other medical provider) at a community health center at least once, and at least about once a year after that, is eligible.
Patients can still see other doctors of course, including another primary care doctor, and specialists anywhere else. In fact, all prescriptions written by another doctor who has been referred to by the health center doctor are eligible for the 340b discounts.
However, the discounts are only available when the prescriptions are filled at the health center’s own pharmacy or an outside pharmacy that it contracts with.
Call the centers and ask about becoming a new patient and if patients can get the 340b drug discounts. If so, make an appointment as a new patient.
Also ask if they have their own pharmacy or if they work with certain other pharmacies for the discount. If they do work with an outside pharmacy, ask the health center if you need a card from them to get the 340b discount.
You than then call the pharmacy and they may tell you the 340b price for your insulin (or they may say they can't tell you until you have a prescription from one of their providers).
At your appointment with the health center provider, ask for prescriptions for all of your medications -- and if the provider will write them for the 90-day quantity, even better.
Be sure to have the prescriptions sent to the health center's in-house pharmacy (if they have one) or to a 340b pharmacy that the health center contracts with. Or, you can just get paper prescriptions and take them to the pharmacy yourself.
Also, at your medical appointment, your provider will likely want to do an exam, talk with you, and maybe order lab work (if needed).
Once you or the pharmacy has your prescriptions, call or visit the pharmacy to ask about the 340b discount prices for your insulin and other medications.
Also, ask about the prices for 30-, 60- and 90-day supplies, as these may be MUCH cheaper than the single unit price.
If you have any questions or problems along the way, send us a message on the contact page.
And, please let us know how the process goes, and even the prices you are able to get, so we can adjust the instructions and include more price information (anonymously) on the website.
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