No Charge: Free Prescription Drugs, Wireless Service, TV and Even College Classes

If you're on a tight budget, these tips are for you.

June 16, 2010, 10:39 PM

June 17, 2010 — -- Who says you can't get anything for free? You can, if you know where to look. "Good Morning America" Consumer Correspondent Elisabeth Leamy appeared on the show today to tell you how to find a range of products -- from medication to credit monitoring to wireless phone service -- all for free.

Prescription drug costs are rising even as many people are out of work and losing their health care coverage, but big pharmaceutical companies give away more than $200 million in prescription medication each year to the uninsured.

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance works with pharmaceutical companies to provide free medicines to people with too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance.

Rules on free prescriptions vary, but typically a person who makes less than $21,000 a year, or a family of four that lives on less than $44,000, would be eligible, Leamy said.

There's no time limit for program. As long as your budget remains tight, you'll continue to qualify. The paperwork is easy to fill out.

Click HERE to visit the Partnership for Prescription Assistance.

People are worried about identity theft, but it costs money to use a credit monitoring program, which can cost as much as $300 a year.

Consumers are entitled to three free credit reports per year -- one from each of the big credit bureaus. If you order one from Experian in January, another from Equifax in May and the other from TransUnion in September, you'll be checking up on your credit year round.

Credit reports may be free, but the all-important credit scores aren't free yet. There is serious talk in Congress about requiring that each American be given a free peek at their credit score once a year. We'll keep you posted.

Click HERE to visit

Cable is another big expense. The average American family spends more than $800 a year on cable, but there is a way to get TV broadcasts for free through a combination of old-school ingenuity and cutting-edge technology.

Here's what to do: Use an indoor antenna, or put an antenna on your roof -- and you'll capture the digital signals sent out by the over-the-air broadcast signals.

Since the digital changeover, many more channels are available with just the indoor antenna. Leamy said she gets about 40 channels just with the indoor antenna, and she doesn't have cable or satellite television service.

You'll capture even more channels with an antenna on the roof.

Anything that's not available that way can usually be found online. There are many websites where you can watch your favorite shows, sports and movies for free.

Of course, it's not so much fun to watch shows on your computer, but there are alternatives. You can connect your computer to your TV and watch anything that's on the Internet on your TV screen. Hook-up procedures vary depending on your equipment, but there are dozens of tutorials online that will show you the various configurations.

Click HERE to learn more about alternatives to cable.

A typical family cell phone plan costs a minimum of $600 a year, but thanks to Wi-Fi technology, it's now possible to make cell phone calls for free.

Skype first introduced us to free computer video calls, and the company is now offering free mobile calls via its Skype Mobile service. Skype Mobile works with several different smartphones, and it's free if you're talking to someone else who's also signed up for that service.

Another way to get free wireless is on the new iPad. "Whistle," a new application for the iPad, essentially turns your iPad into a cell phone. Instead of connecting to the Web wirelessly, you can connect and make phone calls. Use it with a Bluetooth earphone and you're good to go.

If you have an inquiring mind, you can satisfy your lasting curiosity by taking college courses for free. If you've always wanted to learn more about a particular subject, you can take a non-credit class from some of the world's top universities, including University of California, Berkeley, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University and Wikiversity.

Click HERE for Yale University's open courses.

Click HERE for more information from U.C., Berkeley.

Click HERE for more from MIT.

Click HERE for more from Wikiversity.

Click HERE to get more of Elisabeth's Leamy's money-saving tips from her book "SAVE BIG."

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.

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