Great prescription…but does it really cost that much? If you’ve ever had that moment, you know the sinking feeling. You finally went to the doctor. You got the prescription. But, now, you don’t have the money—or you don’t want to spend so much.
According to a National Center for Health Statistics Survey, about 8% of adults in the United States don’t take prescribed medications. Why? Because they can’t afford the cost.
Whether you can’t afford the cost, or you’d just rather spend less to get the same medication, the following practices could save you some money.
Generic drugs have the same ingredients as brand-name options. They just usually have less marketing and brand recognition associated with them.
The average cost of a generic drug is 80%-85% less vs. the brand-name version. There are generic versions of name-brand drugs to treat most common ailments, such as pain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
According to FDA studies, nearly 8 in 10 prescriptions filled in the U.S. are for generic drugs.
Tip: Ask your doctor if there is a similar drug with a generic version. He or she may be able to save you some money and time at the initial prescription.
Many big-box chains and pharmacies in grocery stores offer generic medications. Every chain is unique, and different ones offer different brands. Many provide value discounts for volume, such as a 30-day supply or a 90-day supply. Check out the options of stores in your area.
Tip: Ask for the list of generic brands when you’re at the pharmacy. Bring it with you when you’re seeing your doctor.
Some medications are available in higher doses, and can be divided with a pill splitter. In some cases, getting a larger dose will work to save money by splitting. This doesn’t work for time-release or slow-release medications. It also does not work for certain capsules or tablets that are enteric-coated or release over time.
Tip: Ask your doctor if it’s possible to get a larger dose of your medication, suitable for splitting.
Pharmaceutical companies often provide physicians with drug samples. If your doctor recommends an expensive medication, ask for a free sample. You can try out the drug first, and ensure you don’t have adverse reactions, before filling the prescription.
Tip: Be proactive. Ask your doctor for free samples, especially of expensive medications.
Often, medications that you’re taking long-term can be purchased at a lower cost, if you buy a larger amount. This can also save time on pharmacy visits, and applying for co-pay from insurance.
Tip: Ask your doctor for a larger supply where appropriate for long-term medications.
Mail order pharmacies are likely to have less overhead than physical locations. They can afford to sell medications at a cheaper price.
Tip: Contact your health insurance to find out if they have a relationship with a mail order pharmacy. If so, tell your doctor to send your prescriptions to the mail order firm. They can deliver your order to your door.
There are a lot of prescription assistance programs. These include state and local programs, Medicare, non-profit organizations, and even drug manufacturers. Many of the programs have income requirements, to help those in the most need.
Non-profit organizations include Needy Meds and Partnership for Prescription Assistance. You may also find options at Medicare including ways to contact manufacturers directly, as many pharmaceutical companies provide assistance programs.
Tip: Check out program options online to save time and save money.
Medicare plans can change on an annual basis. You may have an old plan, and could be eligible for different copays and deductible amounts. Review the options annually, as you have the opportunity to switch Medicare plans during the annual enrollment period, from October 15 to December 7.
Tip: Check with your insurer before October 15.
It pays to shop around. Some pharmacies offer seasonal, monthly, and weekly specials. Some pharmacies buy directly from drug manufacturers; others rely on a middleman. The prices vary. Call providers in your area to compare prices. Additionally, use WeRx or GoodRx to compare prices. You’ll find it easy to compare prescription prices, print medication coupons, and get the best price in your area.
Tip: Check with your doctor regarding price deals in your area for specific medications. He or she is likely to know of specific pharmacies that offer lower prices.
Getting prescription medications can be costly. While drug costs can dent your budget, these strategies and tips can help lessen the pain. By taking a proactive approach, you should be able to get the medications you need, at a price you can manage.