• Cost is a major barrier to managing and treating COPD.
  • Government and nonprofit programs may cover or offset the cost of medication and treatment.
  • Your doctor and pharmacist may also be resources for helping you manage costs.

When you live with a chronic condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the last thing you want to worry about is the cost of treatment. For many people, cost is a major barrier to managing and treating COPD.

COPD management includes:

  • appointments
  • tests
  • procedures
  • treatments
  • medications

If you have COPD, you might need help handling the financial costs that come with it.

Some government and nonprofit programs can help with these costs. Other forms of support might also help you manage both COPD and its costs.

The direct cost of COPD in the United States in 2010 was estimated at $32 billion. According to data, this number was expected to rise.

The costs of managing COPD can include:

  • doctor’s appointments
  • medical tests
  • medication
  • pulmonary rehabilitation programs
  • smoking cessation drugs and counseling
  • supplemental oxygen

COPD is a progressive disease, so the way you manage it is likely to change over time. As symptoms change, you may need to adjust your medications or work with your doctor to modify your treatment plan.

Here’s a list of resources that can provide financial assistance if you have COPD.

Medicare

Medicare is designed to cover people ages 65 years and older. Some people will qualify for Medicare at a younger age, depending on their health history. You can find out more on the Medicare website.

Medicare will cover hospital care, many tests, and doctor’s visits. Keep in mind that not all doctor’s offices will accept Medicare. If you are going to a new clinic, make sure to call ahead and ask.

Medicare Part D is optional coverage to help pay for your prescription medications. Depending on your health and budget, you can compare packages to find one that best meets your needs.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a program to support people with low incomes and help them cover the cost of healthcare. Each state runs the Medicaid program for its residents, so the rules around who qualifies for Medicaid will differ by state.

You can find out whether you qualify for Medicaid here. If you don’t qualify, you can explore other lower cost health insurance options on the same site.

State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program

Some states offer financial support for people who have difficulty paying for medications, but the criteria and funding will vary. You can check whether your state has a pharmaceutical assistance program here.

Prescription assistance

Taking your medications as directed by a doctor can improve symptoms of COPD. Medications can help reduce:

  • shortness of breath
  • coughing
  • chest tightness

If you can’t pay for your medications, you aren’t alone. Here are some places to try to find assistance:

  • Needymeds: This website provides information on programs and discounts to save money on medications. It can help you to find free or low cost medical clinics. There is also information to help you navigate government health programs.
  • SingleCare: On this website, you can type in the name of your medications to compare their prices. You can also get a drug discount card to use at pharmacies to reduce the cost of your medications.
  • Medicine Assistance Tool (previously called The Partnership for Prescription Assistance): This is a great website for money-saving options for your medications. You’ll need to provide the names of your medications, where you live, and your income. The site will suggest using discounts from drug companies or public programs.

Support with general needs

If you have any concerns about access to food, housing, or healthcare, your local United Way office is a good place to start. Anywhere in the United States, you can call 211 on your cell or landline to access community services.

This can connect you with help to pay bills, get food, or access mental health and substance use services. You can learn more about these services here.

Your doctor

It’s important to let your doctor know if you’re having trouble paying for your medications.

There may be other medication options that are less expensive yet still effective. Sometimes, older medications still work well and cost less than ones more recently developed. You can also ask for generic versions of brand-name prescriptions to try to save money.

Sometimes, clinics have medication samples that they can give to their patients.

If you’re looking for a doctor and are worried about the cost of medical care, make sure to call around. Some offices offer discounted rates for people without medical insurance. You may also be able to set up a payment plan.

It might help to ask around in your neighborhood to find out whether any local health centers provide low cost healthcare.

Your pharmacist

Pharmacists are amazing resources. They may have advice on a better or different medication dose or formulation that would work just as well but cost less.

Generic medications are another way to save money. Brand names are typically more expensive, while a generic medication has the same active ingredients at a lower cost.

Living with COPD can be difficult. The following are options for support groups and resources that can help.

Connecting with others

Support groups are a way to connect with other people who are living with COPD. It’s helpful to know that you’re not alone.

If you’re having trouble paying for the medications you need, ask others for advice. You won’t be the only one who has had trouble paying for treatments. Support groups are a great way to get new ideas or find out how to save on medical costs.

Support for quitting smoking

The best way to improve your health when you have COPD is to quit smoking if you currently smoke. But this can be a daunting task. If you’re not ready to quit, cutting down can help.

There are many strategies to quit smoking, such as:

  • medications
  • nicotine therapies
  • counseling

If you have Medicare, these will be covered under Part B (medical insurance).

The CDC has a free resource you can call for support if you want to quit. A call to 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) will provide free coaching and help you make a quit plan. They can also direct you to other local resources to help you in your quitting journey.

Pulmonary rehabilitation

The goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to improve the quality of life for people with COPD. This is done through a combination of exercise and education.

Many people with COPD avoid activity. However, exercise and breathing techniques can help you better manage your COPD and stay active. This is a main focus of pulmonary rehab programs.

Exercise and breathing techniques can strengthen your lungs and make it easier to breathe. When you use less energy to breathe, you will have more energy for other things.

If you have Medicare coverage, it will often cover the cost of pulmonary rehab. Ask your doctor about options near you. Contact programs to find out more about the costs and how you may be able to get financial support to attend.

For many people, the costs of managing COPD are hard to manage.

However, there are programs available to help you pay for treatment and medications. There are also websites and services available to help you navigate all the facets of life with COPD.

You aren’t alone in this journey, so reach out for help when you need it. Your doctor and pharmacist may have ideas. Other people who live with COPD are also a source of information.