I have a friend who takes several medications for mental health. She lost her health insurance coverage in December but signed up for a healthcare plan through Covered California during open enrollment; her new plan takes effect on February 1st.

She doesn't have enough medication to last the next 11 days and I'm trying to help her figure out what she can do to bridge that gap. Missing a week or more of several of the medications would be a big deal.

I'm sure she's not the only person who has run into this type of issue and I'm wondering if there is any system in place for people in her situation to get a few days of medication to tide her over until her plan officially starts. She runs out of one medication on Monday, but since it's the weekend now we haven't been able to get through to anyone who could help us with this by phone.

What options are available for patients who need psychiatric medication refills right before their insurance coverage starts?

  • 2
    Ask the doctor to issue a short-term script to bridge the gap?
    – keshlam
    Jan 22, 2017 at 4:35
  • @kashlam If she no longer has the insurance she saw the former doctor under, is she going to be able to see that doctor to get a short-term script?
    – user45623
    Jan 24, 2017 at 2:24
  • That's up to the doctor. He might not charge. Or she can pay him cash for that one visit; he might discount it. Only way to find out is to tell him the problem and ask.
    – keshlam
    Jan 24, 2017 at 2:25
  • @keshlam Thanks (and sorry for misspelling your name last time!). For some reason I thought the former doctor wouldn't be allowed to see her again; maybe that depends on the doctor's network or terms of their professional insurance
    – user45623
    Jan 24, 2017 at 2:32
  • A doctor can always choose to see you. The question is only who pays.
    – keshlam
    Jan 24, 2017 at 2:49

1 Answer 1


The big problem regarding lack of insurance is that the patient has to pay list price for the medicine.

Some doctors have access to samples. They are usually used to start a patient out with a dose or two before the prescription can be filled. They are also used when testing a patients reaction to the new medicine or to see if it is effective as a previous medicine.

Approach the current doctor to see what can be done. They can sometimes give the patient a couple of doses for free. They may also be able to change the prescription to a generic, or to an option that has a coupon to bring the cost of a small supply down to a more reasonable number.

Bringing the paperwork showing that the patient is waiting for the 1st of February may help prove the situation, and make it seem that they are no doctor shopping.

Note: Cynics would say the samples/coupons are used by the drug company to make sure the doctor writes prescriptions for their drug.

  • Thanks for the reply. We hadn't considered approaching her previous doctor for a short-term prescription or free 'sample' because she no longer has the insurance coverage she used to see that doctor. Should she expect to pay an out-of-pocket appointment fee to approach her previous doctor, or is this something where most doctors would just write the prescription/give the medicine without requiring a formal appointment?
    – user45623
    Jan 24, 2017 at 2:26

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