An inhaler made out of coins and dollar bills, surrounded by flying paper money

Can't Afford Asthma Inhalers

If there is one thing I do not understand, it is health insurance in the United States. How do insurance companies decide what they will cover and how much they will pay?

We are a family of 5, and 4 of us have asthma. So we have spent a LOT of money at the pharmacy over the last 2 decades.

My 3 kids are adults now, and my 2 sons have aged off of our insurance. They both pay for their own insurance...and their coverage is quite different from mine.

My middle son cannot afford his asthma inhaler

This became an issue when Middle Son texted to see if we had any Covid test kits. Immediately, I was worried because this son has severe asthma and has been in the hospital 8 times for asthma (2 ICU’s) - not to mention countless emergency room (ER) visits. When he gets sick, he gets really sick, really fast.

I asked him if he had enough puffs left on his controller inhaler, or if he needed me to pick up a refill at the pharmacy. He said that he was not taking his controller inhaler, because even after insurance, it was $400.

What?!

He said he said he had been paying $200 a month after insurance for his inhaler. He knew that he needed it, and did not want to end up back in the ER, so he paid the $200 and cut back on groceries. But he said he cannot afford to pay $400 for an inhaler.

$400. With insurance.

I am so confused, and disgusted. I do not understand health insurance in the U.S.

Why has his co-pay doubled? In the past, he could use a coupon for his inhaler. But the drug company for this inhaler no longer has coupons. He can apply for co-pay help, but who knows how long that process will take.

I had to apply for co-pay help for 7 years when Middle Son was on a pricey biologic to try to control his severe asthma. But, it takes a lot of work and a long time.

He can apply on his own for co-pay help, but that means he is not taking a controller inhaler and his lungs are suffering.

I told him to message his doctor and ask for a different inhaler. Or, he can try a federally funded clinic nearby that bases his co-pay and prescription prices on his income. He can try that clinic and I KNOW he will pay less than the $400 co-pay for his inhaler.

I will pay for his inhaler now. With a long history of ending up in the hospital with asthma and respiratory infections, I am not about to sit by and watch a train wreck.

For those of you who are wondering about coupons, many drug companies offer coupons for their inhalers and other medications. Look at the label on your inhaler and then search online for that drug company.

They should have a place on their website for coupons and/or co-pay help. It can take some time to fill out the information, but it is worth it!

My daughter cannot afford her's either, but found a coupon!

My daughter’s asthma has been acting up all summer, and her doctor prescribed a new inhaler. After insurance, it was $150. Without any nagging from me, she went on the drug company’s website and filled out the information to get a coupon.

To "apply" for a coupon, it only took her about 2 minutes, and now her co-pay is $0. Zero!

I cannot afford my asthma inhaler but still need it

Now that flu season is here, I keep an additional corticosteroid inhaler on hand. My doctor has me add that to my regular controller inhaler if I get the flu, pneumonia or Covid. That extra inhaler seems to help, and then I do not end up needing prednisone. Although I do need overnight oxygen when I get Covid.

I need this extra inhaler, but my co-pay is $200. For a generic. After insurance.

Ugh.

So, 3 of us in my family are struggling to pay for our inhalers (even though we work and have insurance.)

I am baffled. It should not be this way.

Has anyone else struggled to afford their asthma inhaler? Did you have to go without your asthma inhaler to pay for groceries or other bills?

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