Target Benefits

Published January 1, 2003

Did you know more than 60 drug companies have “patient assistance programs” that make prescription medications available to millions of qualified patients at no cost? Under these plans, drug companies provide free medicines to those who have no prescription drug insurance.

The drug plans proposed in Congress suffer from a problem known as “casting too wide a net.” When Congress attempts to help one group of people, other groups get help–needed or not.

The private sector, however, recognizes about 65 percent of people over age 65 already have some kind of insurance for prescription drugs. The remaining 35 percent have no insurance, but some of these individuals can afford to pay cash for their prescriptions.

After eliminating those who have drug insurance and those who can afford to pay for their own prescriptions out-of-pocket, you get to the problem group: poor, mostly elderly, and mostly women.

Private drug assistance plans are a free-market example of something government cannot do: target aid to only those who need it. Like all great ideas that work, such plans are uncomplicated and less expensive.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.