In 2014, an astounding 4.3 billion prescriptions were filled as Americans spent $374 billion on medications. If you’re filling high-priced prescriptions every time you visit the pharmacy, there could be help. Here’s 12 ways to reduce the cost of your prescription medicines and put money back into your pocket.
1. Choose Generic
Generic drugs go through a rigorous approval process from the Federal Drug Administration. They also have to contain the same active ingredient in the same amounts as the brand name drug. According to the FDA, 8 in 10 prescriptions issued today are for the generic medication. Maybe it’s because they cost an average of 80-85 percent less. Generics are saving Americans a mind-boggling $3 billion a week in drug costs. Check with your doctor if the medication you’re taking is available in generic form.
2. Check Your Coverage
What drugs will your insurance plan help you pay for? All health insurers have these drug lists or formularies. These are available online or by contacting your benefits coordinator or insurer directly.
3. Compare Co-pays
Even if the medication is covered through insurance, there’s still ways to save. Look at the co-pay. Retailers such as Walmart, Target and grocery stores are now offering generics with a co-pay as low as $4.
4. Shop ’til Prices Drop
You wouldn’t buy a new television without shopping for the best value. Why not do the same with your medications? Prescription drug costs can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy and within the same pharmacy chain. These days, you can comparison shop from your smartphone. Consumer Reports recommends GoodRx and WeRx for ease of use.
5. Say Yes to Freebies, but…
Your doctor may give you handfuls of free samples for the latest and greatest, but if the medication ends up being prescribed, here comes the sticker shock. Talk to your doctor beforehand to see if there’s a generic form.
6. Pill Splitting
You could save money by splitting your pills. Say your doctor prescribes 10 milligrams of a medication, but you can get the dosage in 20 milligrams. With the approval of your doctor, you could take half a pill. This works well with scored pills. Talk to your doctor about it. It could save you a lot.
7. Financial Aid
Many states offer financial assistance to help cover drug costs. Check the State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program to see what’s available in your area. There are also charitable organizations, such as the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, that can help ease costs too. If you meet income limits, you could get Extra Help from Medicare to lower or eliminate Medicare prescription drug costs. In 2015, drug costs through the program are $2.65 or less for generic and $6.60 or less for brand name covered drug.
8. Get Rid of the Clutter
You should review your medications with your physician or pharmacist every six months. Try to eliminate unnecessary or redundant medications. Also look at dosages or if a generic option has become available.
9. Avoid Prescription Pitches
Just because the drug company is good at advertising on TV, it doesn’t mean the drug is the best for your budget. Typically, they are building awareness for a new drug, which can be expensive and not yet available in generic form. The company that makes Humira (adalimumab) for Crohn’s disease spent $293 million on advertising and the drug can cost $5,000 per month according to a Consumer Reports analysis.
10. Go to the Country
Big cities can mean bigger prices for your prescription. Consumer Reports compared the prices of a 30-day supply of generic Actos a diabetes medication, from an independent pharmacy in Raleigh, N.C. and a store in a rural part of the state. The city price was $203 and the rural price was $37.
11. Buy in Bulk
If you take medication on a regular basis for an ongoing medical reason, you might want to consider buying a 90-day supply, not the 30-day. Your prescription coverage plan might allow you to order several months of medication at a time at a reduced price.
12. Don’t Overlook OTC
For certain common ailments, over-the-counter (OTC) works just as well as prescription. Heartburn, joint pain, allergies and migraines can all be quieted with OTC. Former prescription-only drugs have become available without an Rx, which saves you a trip to the doctor.
Put some or all of these money-saving strategies to work for you. Remember, out-of-pocket prescription costs don’t have to leave you with empty pockets.