How to Find Financial Assistance for Cancer Medications

Medication is expensive—there’s no way around it. Sometimes the life-saving prescriptions that we need to treat cancer are, even with quality health insurance, a huge strain on the budget or outright unaffordable. Even medications that are decently priced and decently covered can add up if your protocol stacks several together. 

It can feel like there’s no workaround to the twin pressures of managing your finances (cancer is tremendously expensive to treat, between explicit treatment costs and lost wages from missed work) and managing your health (you obviously want to follow your doctor’s recommendations about medications). While the healthcare system is flawed, there are a few ways to chip away at the cost of treatment, and they’re worth investigating. We did some of the heavy lifting for you—let’s take a look at what we found out. 

 How to maximize your health insurance coverage

Insurance is tricky, and most policies don’t allow members to make changes to their plans until specific enrollment periods. If you have employer-sponsored insurance, you are typically able to make changes yearly during an open enrollment period, so make sure you know when that period is and which changes will best serve you. 

If you currently have a high deductible health plan (HDHP) with a health savings account (HSA), know that these plans are often not cost-effective for cancer treatment because they require the member to pay out of pocket for all non-preventative medications and services until they reach their deductible. A preferred provider organization (PPO) or health maintenance organization (HMO) plan will start covering expenses sooner than an HDHP, and HMOs tend to have lower, or even no, deductibles. 

Some useful questions to ask your HR department or insurance provider are:

  • What is my yearly deductible for prescription coverage?
  • What percentage of prescription costs are covered once I meet my deductible?
  • What is the difference in coverage for generic vs name brand medication?

These questions can help guide your choices when you next have the opportunity to make changes to your coverage. 

Prescription discount cards and clubs

Prescription discount clubs and cards are tried-and-true workarounds to paying full price for your meds. Each company has a slightly different business model—here are some Better Business Bureau approved options:


GoodRx is the gold standard of prescription discount cards. It covers nearly all FDA-approved drugs and is simple to use (there’s an app). Membership is free (though there is a paid tier of membership, at $6 monthly, that offers access to premium discounts), and it is accepted at over 70,000 pharmacies.

AARP Prescription Discount Card

For AARP members, this card offers significant discounts on all FDA-approved meds—both generic and name-brand. You can also use it to get home delivery of your meds and to get discounts on doctor-prescribed OTC medications. 

Walmart Rx Program

This discount card only covers generic prescriptions and doesn’t cover a ton of medications, but if yours happens to be covered, it can offer some significant discounts. It’s free, and anyone can join, so if you’re taking a generic medication, it’s worth a shot to see if it’s on the list. 


RxSaver is geared toward folks who take high-cost prescriptions on an ongoing basis, so it can be a great fit for cancer care. There is a free level of service, as well as their Rx Advocacy Program, which is available only by application, costs $60 monthly, and has the potential to take a huge bite out of medication costs. 

Mail-order prescription services

Combining convenience with discounts, mail-order prescription services are excellent choices if you’re homebound, take the same medication consistently, or don’t need to chat with a pharmacist. 

Blink Health

You can save up to 80% with this home delivery service, which uses an app to let you search its network of pharmacy providers for the lowest price and then takes payment on their behalf. They also have in-house doctors who can write prescriptions for some conditions, which can potentially save you money on appointments. 

Manufacturer discounts 

Some drug companies have assistance programs that subsidize the cost of their pharmaceuticals for patients who cannot afford them. If you know the company that produces your drugs, you can search their database for available programs. Here are a few major drug companies:

Extreme couponing: medical edition

Prescription coupons are a great way to start trimming the fat on your medication budget. Many are free to join—they work by offering discounts at specific pharmacies and for specific medications. Some are more comprehensive than others, so it’s smart to look into what kinds of discounts you can get from each option. Here are some top picks:

America’s Pharmacy and ScriptSave WellRx

Two free-to-join prescription savings cards, America’s Pharmacy and ScriptSave WellRx cards can offer big savings and are accepted at large chain pharmacies including Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, and Kroger. Once you join, you’re able to search by medication, find available discounts, and download coupons that you then bring to the pharmacy to lower the price you pay. 

Optum Perks

A great choice if you prefer a local pharmacy to a national chain, Optum Perks doesn’t use a membership model—you simply search their site for your medication and download any available coupons to bring to the pharmacy.

A repository for different prescription discounts and coupons, this site can be a bit complex to navigate but contains a tremendous number of discounting options. 

 Nonprofit prescription assistance programs

Patient assistance programs exist to help bridge the gaps between insurance coverage and the actual cost of life-saving medications. It can be hard to ask for help in this way, but you deserve care, and it’s okay to reach out for assistance in getting it. 

Rx Hope, Rx Assist, Needy Meds

If you’ve been prescribed a drug that you absolutely cannot afford, it’s worth searching one of these sites, which index patient assistance programs and link you to applications. Both sites are searchable by medication. 

 Keeping your head above water

As you work with your care team to dial in your treatment protocols, know that your financial health matters, too. It’s always okay to ask your providers about the cost of prescriptions and whether there are more affordable alternatives so that you can be a part of making cost-benefit analyses. Health is priceless, but life costs money, and it’s important to be able to talk openly about your financial realities as you go through treatment.

The strategies we delved into here are great starting points. Community support in the form of friends, a support group, your Jasper Care Navigator, or a mentor from Immerman Angels also be a great resource for tips that can help you navigate the financial aspect of your treatment and recovery. 

The content on this website is intended to provide the best possible information for you, but should not be considered—or used as a substitute for—medical advice. If you have questions about your diagnosis or treatment, please contact your health care provider(s). For questions or comments about this content, please email us at [email protected].