Single mothers, that category of women who are singlehandedly trying to raise a family, may be in need of assistance of one kind or another. Health care programs for single mothers are just one avenue of such assistance. The kinds of programs available and the benefits they offer to single mothers will be investigated in this article.
In this resource document, we give resoruces for the following:
- Prescription Services
- Drug Prescription Discounts
- Health Insurance Resources
- Health Centers and Health Care Resources
Prescription Services Resources
Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA)
This program enables patients who qualify but do not have prescription drug coverage to access the medicines they require through the right program for them, whether public or private. Many patients get free medications or pay very little for them. http://www.pparx.org/.
The partners in this program to which single mothers have access are –
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Other health care providers,
- Patient advocacy organizations
- Community groups.
Patient Assistance Programs
This is another prescription assistance program established by drug companies which offers low-cost or free medications to patients. Companies voluntarily deliver the programs, as they are not required to do so, and most brand name drugs are made available. To be eligible for these programs, individuals are required to –
- Be US citizens or legal residents
- Have no prescription insurance coverage
- Have an income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level
NeedyMeds is a non-profit information resource that is dedicated to helping low-income patients find the assistance programs available to them, free of cost. Under Patient Assistance Programs on its website, http://www.needymeds.org/drug_list.taf there is a list of brand name drugs, listed alphabetically. Some of the drugs offer coupons for which single moms can sign up, to help reduce the cost of the drugs. Drugs are also listed by their generic names, but the coupon offers only appear beside the brand names. Assistance programs and the companies which offer them are also listed.
RxAssist http://www.rxassist.org/ is a website offering information on how and where affordable or free medications can be accessed. Information is given on pharmaceutical companies’ patient assistance programs, or other programs from which low-income patients can access free medication.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program
This program, operated by the CDC, is a federally funded program providing free vaccines, so that children who are unable to pay can be vaccinated. Children who are eligible to receive VFC vaccines, are also entitled to get the pediatric vaccines which the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends. Information about where to access vaccines is made available to parents. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/default.htm.
WISEWOMAN – Heart Health for Uninsured and Under-Insured Women
This program is also operated by the CDC through its Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. It provides low-income, uninsured, or under-insured women between the ages of 40 and 64 with screening for heart disease and stroke risk factors, as well as lifestyle interventions. The program’s website provides information on heart health and where the programs are located.
There are 21 WISEWOMAN programs which are funded by the CDC and operated in local states. The benefits of the program include –
- Blood pressure and cholesterol testing
- Testing for diabetes
- Lifestyle programs targeting poor nutrition and physical inactivity
- Classes on healthy cooking
- Walking clubs
- Lifestyle counseling
- Proactive quit lines or quit-smoking classes for women who smoke.
Interventions vary among programs, but all of them aim to promote lasting and healthy lifestyle changes.
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)
ACIP provides written recommendations for administration of vaccines, routinely. It also prepares schedules relating to the most suitable timing, dosage, and contraindications. ACIP has also developed vaccination schedules for adults because –
- Some adults were not vaccinated as children
- Newer vaccines were not around when some adults were children
- Immunity fades with time
- Aging causes more susceptibility to serious diseases caused by common infections.
Prescription Discount Resources
SunAssociation http://www.sunassociation.org/prescriptioncards.html is the company which offers the Sun Patient Card, which is a prescription discount card program for persons who do not have insurance, or who take medications that their insurance plans do not cover. The program covers all medicines that are frequently prescribed. Savings may be realized for all prescriptions, although the amount varies depending on the drug prescribed and the pharmacy used. A call to the company’s toll free number at 866-662-1351 will link a customer care representative. After receiving some basic information from the applicant, the representative will mail the applicant an activated Sun Patient Card.
Basic membership in the association is free and it includes the prescription discount program. More than 120,000 patients have received help through the use of the card.
In addition to their prescription discount program, SunAssociation offers an optional program called Sun Benefits, which can be purchased in various packages.
- Package A
For a $5.50 application fee, and a $5.50 monthly fee, this bundle offers –
- Dental services, where
- Members save 15% to 50% on general dentistry, cleanings, root canals, crown, and orthodontia.
- Over 81,000 dental practice locations are available.
- Savings realized on x-rays and fillings.
- Savings on specialty care like orthodontics and periodontics where available.
- Vision services, where members
- Save 20% to 60% on prescription eyewear.
- Save 10% to 20% on contact lenses (excluding disposables) at certain locations.
- Save 10% to 30% on eye examinations.
- Save 40% to 50% off the national average on LASIK surgery.
- Save on most frames, lenses and specialty items like tints, coatings and UV protection.
- Receive two guarantees; (a) a 30-day unconditional money-back satisfaction guarantee and (b) a low-price guarantee on eyeglasses.
- A free Bonus Pack offering discounts on –
- Durable medical equipment – relating to walkers, blood pressure devices, knee braces, arm slings, back supports, carpal tunnel supports, etc.
- Hearing aids and hearing equipment – providing discounts of 15% to 58% in retail locations and 40% to 60% by mail order.
- Labs and imaging – regarding discounts on blood tests and all other laboratory testing. http://www.sunassociation.org/sunbenefitslabsimag.html.
- Vitamins and diabetic supplies – up to 80% off top brand vitamins, supplements, herbs, organics, and natural health care products through Vitacost.com. Also diabetic supplies of Glucose Meter, control solution, test strips, lancets and lancing device, through the VIP Health & Wellness program. http://www.sunassociation.org/sunbenefitsvitanddia.html.
- Package B
Information on this and the other packages at http://www.sunassociation.org/dentalvisionmore.html .
- Package C
- Package D
- Package E
- Package F
SunAssociation’s healthcare professionals include –
- Physician Offices
- Dialysis Units
- Ambulatory Surgery Units
- Patient Assistance Programs.
FreeDrugCard.us is another non-profit company offering a Free Drug Card program designed to assist all Americans in lowering the costs of their prescription drugs. The free Prescription Drug Card is simply downloaded, and up to 75% savings received at over 54,000 national and regional pharmacies. Applicants simply enter their names and email addresses in a box provided on the website, http://freedrugcard.us/, and a printable, pre-activated membership card is generated and can be used immediately.
PSCard negotiates with pharmacies for volume cash discounts. This results in a 50% saving for the consumer on all prescription drugs. PScard is a free card which works for almost all prescriptions of brand name and generic drugs at almost all pharmacies. It, too, is of the printable personalized variety. http://www.pscard.com/.
YourRxCard is another free prescription drug card program aimed at helping all Americans to cut prescription drug costs. It is also a downloadable card that is offered free of cost to the consumer. All that is needed is the applicant’s full name and email address. Up to 75% savings can be realized at over 57,000 pharmacies nationally, regionally, and locally. http://www.yourrxcard.com/. The benefits of this card are:
- No deductibles
- No waiting periods
- No pre-existing exclusions
- Everyone qualifies
- Instant activation
- Free membership
Health Insurance Resources
The federal government, in conjunction with the States, facilitates health insurance coverage for children. This is done through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid, which targets families who cannot afford, or may be ineligible for private health insurance coverage. The programs are state-specific, but the general income level for eligibility appears to be $44,100 annually for a family of four.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
This program was developed in 1997 to provide low-cost or free health insurance coverage for children in families earning too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to be able to afford private health insurance coverage. CHIP benefits are extended to 19 year olds and younger, with some services requiring participation in cost-sharing and payment of low premiums.
CHIP varies among states in terms of its –
- Eligibility guidelines
- Benefit packages offered
- Payment levels required for coverage, and
- Administrative processes.
The benefit packages are also flexible, but all tend to include –
- Routine check-ups
- Dental care
- Inpatient and outpatient hospital care
- Laboratory and x-ray services
- No-cost preventive care
It is both easy and free to apply for CHIP health coverage. A toll-free call can be placed to 1-877 KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669), and a contact person from the applicant’s state will assist with the application. Applications may be completed over the phone, online, or through the mail service, and some documents may be required. http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/chip/index.html.
Medicaid is another health program catering to single mothers, and it can be accessed in every State. Infants and children below age 6 where the family income is $29,725 annually for a four-member family in 2011 are covered. Also covered are children below 19 years of age in families with a yearly income of $22,350. US citizens and eligible immigrants are free to apply.
Free Medicaid benefits include –
- Preventive care
- screening and treatment of health conditions
- hospital and doctor visits
- vision and dental care.
The application procedure is like that for CHIP. The same telephone number is dialed and the same conditions apply. http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/medicaid/index.html.
Participating Patient Assistance Programs
Every state has its own set of programs which can be easily accessed. For example, if a single mom is living in California, she could have access to –
- Access for Infants and Mothers (AIM)
This program, run by the State of California, offers assistance to pregnant mothers, in recognition of the complications that can result from lack of prenatal care. It caters to pregnant mothers without pregnancy insurance coverage, who are also not receiving Medi-Cal, or Medicare Part A or Part B. AIM also helps when the mother has health insurance, but her maternity services co-payment or deductible costs over $500.
- Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP)
California has 24 local HICAP offices which provide free community education and outreach events for Medicare beneficiaries, as well as fair confidential personalized counseling across the State. To be eligible for this program the single mom must be a Medicare beneficiary. Trained HICAP Counselors provide correct and objective information on, and help to –
- Choose Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Health Plans
- Enroll in Prescription Drug Plans and Medicare Health Plans
- File original Medicare and private insurance claims
- Prepare Medicare appeals.
The California HICAP belongs to a national network of State Health Insurance and Assistance Programs (SHIP). As a Federal grant program, SHIP enables States to improve and support local programs along with their staff and volunteers. The local programs are responsible for directly assisting beneficiaries to understand and use their Medicare benefits, which include –
- Prescription Drug Plan Coverage
- Medicare Advantage Plans
- Medicare supplemental policies
- Medicare Savings Programs and
- Long term care insurance. http://www.aging.ca.gov/HICAP/.
- Healthy Families
This program provides low-cost insurance for children and teenagers, 18 years and below, who live in California. Health, dental, and vision coverage are available to children who neither have insurance nor qualify for free Medi-Cal. Specifically, eligibility into this program is based on the following:
- Family income within Federal Income Guidelines, according to family size and age of children
- Children do not qualify for no-cost Medi-Cal
- Children not covered by employer insurance for at least three months
- Children meet citizenship or immigration requirements.
This is California’s version of Medicaid. It is a public health insurance program providing the health care services that low-income individuals and families with children need. There are other beneficiaries as well, including low-income persons with specific diseases like tuberculosis, breast cancer, or HIV/AIDS.
The Medi-Cal Managed Care Division (MMCD) uses its managed care delivery systems to provide high quality, cost-effective, and accessible health care. Primary and preventive care is emphasized, and quality of care is assured. Three models of managed care are offered. They are:
- Two-Plan Model
This Plan serves beneficiaries in 14 counties in California. The Two-Plan Model consists of a Local Initiative (LI) and a Commercial Plan (CP), both of which work with the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). The LI aims at meeting the needs and concerns of the community, while the CP is a private insurance plan which Medi-Cal beneficiaries can access. Families and children must enroll with the CP or the LI.
- County Organized Health Systems (COHS)
This model is available in 11 counties. The local government and health care providers, along with community groups and Medi-Cal beneficiaries, all help to create a health plan which is run by the county. In a COHS county every person participates in the same managed care plan.
- Geographic Managed Care (GMC)
This model serves beneficiaries in the counties of Sacramento and San Diego. In these counties, the DHCS contracts with numerous commercial plans, and families and children must enroll in a Medi-Cal managed plan.
Health Centers and Health Care Resources
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
This program, offered by the US Department of Health and Human Services, is federally-funded and can be found in most cities and rural areas. This center provides health care, even if the patient does not have health insurance. Payment is made according to patients’ income. Provisions of the health center are:
- Complete care for pregnant women
- Immunizations and checkups for children
- Checkups for mothers
- Treatment for mothers
- Dental care and prescription drugs for family members
- Mental health and substance abuse care if needed.
Smile for a Lifetime – Free Orthodontic Care
The Smile for a Lifetime Foundation is a charitable non-profit organization. It provides orthodontic care to persons who may not be able to obtain assistance. Orthodontists throughout the US, participate with the Foundation. http://s4l.org/SeekingTreatment/Requirements/tabid/95/Default.aspx. Requirements and information on participating orthodontists are available.
American Kidney Fund (AKF)
This organization provides financial assistance related to treatment for dialysis patients nationwide. They are supported by kind donations from caring persons. These donations enable AKF to assist dialysis patients in maintaining their health insurance coverage. They also assist with expenses not covered by insurance, such as –
- Transportation to the health care facility for dialysis
- Special diet
- Kidney donor expenses. http://www.kidneyfund.org/.
Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC)
The ACCC is a national multidisciplinary organization which focuses on providing quality cancer care for patients and communities. Cancer patients often need treatment using very innovative and up-to-date therapies. This is provided by discovering new uses for existing drugs that are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use with other ailments. Known as off-label uses, they are now commonly used in medical practice to assist in cancer care. http://www.accc-cancer.org/advocacy/advocacy-coverageissues.asp.
CancerCare is another national non-profit organization which provides free and professional support services to persons affected by cancer in any way. These persons include –
- Cancer patients
- Loved ones
- The bereaved.
Trained oncology social workers provide free counseling, education, financial assistance, and practical help. Booklets are produced, and there are online support groups available for connection with other persons having similar problems. http://www.cancercare.org/.
Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation
This group is dedicated to providing information and an awareness for children and teenagers with cancer, along with their families. They advocate for patients’ needs, and support research so that every child may survive to lead long, healthy, normal lives.
Chronic Disease Fund, Inc (CDF)
CDF focuses on providing assistance to under-insured patients who are diagnosed with diseases that are chronic or life altering, and which need expensive specialty treatment. It is a non-profit, full service organization which offers financial and medication assistance. Their goal is to improve the health and enhance the quality of life of those patients who are fighting chronic diseases, cancers, and other conditions that are life altering, but who are not able to afford their needed medication. They have trained specialists in product support who offer counseling. http://www.cdfund.org/.
Caring Voice Coalition
This is an organization that uses a holistic approach to improve their patients’ lives, because of their understanding of how a chronic disease can impact those lives. They are aware of the financial burden that low-income families have to bear for hospitalizations, medical appointments, insurance costs, and co-payments, etc. They try to empower their patients to handle those situations by offering comprehensive programs. Their current programs include –
- Financial Assistance Program
This program provides financial assistance to patients who are eligible. A part or all of a patient’s share of the cost under the patient’s health insurance plan may be paid. Financial support is given through one of the following grants programs:
- Insurance premium assistance: offered where a patient can access comprehensive health insurance coverage but cannot pay the monthly premium to maintain the coverage.
- Insurance co-payment assistance: offered where the patient can afford the insurance premium but cannot pay his portion of the cost for the prescription medication.
- Medicare prescription drug assistance: offered where patients are unable to pay their portion of the cost for the prescription drug after Medicare has paid a part.
- Insurance Education and Counseling
Two reasons lay behind the establishment of this program:
- Caring Voice’s knowledge of the essential need for adequate health insurance coverage by persons who are chronically ill.
- Caring Voice’s awareness of the complex and difficult issues that can arise even for those with health insurance coverage.
Because of those reasons, Caring Voice Coalition uses its trained case managers to provide specialized insurance assistance and guidance to their patients, by offering four basic services –
- Reviewing current benefits and explaining them in a way that is easier to understand.
- Helping to mediate problems with or complaints about current coverage.
- Assisting in the exploration of options for new, continued, or improved coverage.
- Providing guidance and assistance in applying for Social Security Disability benefits.
- Patient Support Program
Because dealing with a chronic illness can cause emotions like confusion, fear, frustration, or anger to surface, Caring Voice Coalition offers a Patient Support Program. Through this Program, their Patient Support Case Managers source public and private programs and services from which their patients can benefit. The patients are then linked with these services, in an effort to make life emotionally, socially, and financially easier. This is done by –
- Supplying educational materials that explain the nature and development of the patient’s disease.
- Matching patients to the support programs and services which fit their particular medication or drug therapy.
- Finding peer support groups and other programs that may give emotional support.
This is a non-profit organization which dedicates itself to assisting children suffering from serious illnesses and their family members, to cope with the illnesses. They offer a wide range of services aimed at addressing the many needs of patients, parents, and siblings. Their tagline is ‘Hope. Compassion. Care. Joy.’ http://www.chailifeline.org/. The guiding principles by which ChaiLifeline operates are that:
- Children who are seriously ill both need and deserve as happy and as normal a childhood as is possible.
- Each family member is affected by the child’s illness.
- The wellbeing of family members impacts the wellbeing of the sick child.
- Pediatric illness can devastate families’ financial situation.
The aim of the company is to bring the light of childhood back to children whose world changed when they were diagnosed with a lifelong or life-threatening disease. They do this by implementing programs which cater to the needs of the patients, as well as their families and communities. Some of the services offered include:
- Hospital and Home-Based Services: To ease the stress on the whole family, Chai Lifeline provides everything the family requires to make it through the hospitalization period. This includes –
- Meal Support – where hot meals are provided for both the children who are hospitalized, as well as their families. Meals are even sent to patients’ homes, if necessary.
- Transportation Services – to facilitate appointments at doctors and medical centers, thereby relieving the stress of parents having to concentrate on the road.
- Chai House – which accommodates and supports families whose children are undergoing treatment.
- Community Services
- Educational Assistance
- Crisis Intervention
- Activities & Events
- Trips & Vacations
Normalcy is restored to family life, and this helps members to cope with the challenges of the illnesses.