How to get free health care in the US

More than 45 million Americans, or one in seven, need help paying for their medicine, and many are not aware that there are programs available that can help people get the medicines they need-programs that may provide medication at a fraction of the cost or even for free.

To help consumers learn about these government and private programs, Merck & Co., Inc., a global research-driven pharmaceutical company, has developed the Guide to Affordable Medicine. The Guide to Affordable Medicine can help patients learn how to find the right program for them, determine their eligibility to enroll, understand how to navigate the paperwork and approval processes and answer commonly asked questions.

"We know that people without prescription coverage are less likely to use medications and more likely to stop therapy that could potentially save lives, keep them out of the hospital, and allow them to lead more productive, healthier lives," said Nancy Wicks, Executive Vice President, Merck Patient Assistance Program, Inc. "The most unfortunate part is that there are many programs that the uninsured could take advantage of, if they only knew about them. This new resource is designed to help people understand the range of options available to them."

Eligibility for these programs differs based on a number of factors, including age, income, disability status, health insurance and prescription drug coverage, among others. The Guide is divided into easy-to-read sections to help readers find the appropriate program:

• Medicare-For people over age 65 or disabled, who need help affording their medicine.

• Medicaid-For people who lack health insurance and have a limited income.

• Patient Assistance Programs-For people who have a limited income and no prescription drug coverage, and have exhausted all other payment options.

• Prescription Discount Card Programs-For people who don't have prescription drug coverage, but earn too much to receive public assistance.

• Children's Insurance-For people who lack insurance coverage for their children under age 19.

To order a free copy of the Guide to Affordable Medicine, call (888) MERCK-38 or visit

The Guide to Affordable Medicine outlines various programs to help people obtain the medicines they need.

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