People talk about the high price of an emergency room visit or surprise surgery, yet most people shell out money every month for prescription drugs without a second thought.
The price of drugs can be high and, for some, the need for medication is long term or permanent. With few options, some people go into credit card debt to pay necessary, life-preserving expenses.
While your doctor tells you this is the only way to maintain your health, it makes it increasingly difficult to maintain your budget. So, on top of the physical and mental needs that require treatment, you have stress.
To help alleviate this stress, here are 10 tips to get you prescription drug savings:
- Think preventative care. By taking advantage of yearly health screenings and check-ups offered by your health care provider, you can tackle conditions before they require multiple prescriptions.
- Stick to necessities. Keep yourself from being in the position of paying for a medication you do not need by going over all of your medications with your doctor. There may be newer medications that do the job of two older medications or health problems that are resolved and no longer require treatment.
- Go generic. On average, generic prescription drugs cost 80 to 85 percent less than brand-name drugs, according to the Food and Drug Administration. You can take advantage of this by asking your doctor about getting the generic brand.
- Be honest with your doctor about finding a cheap alternative. Some drugs do not have generic versions available, however there may be a similar type of drug (with a different active ingredient) that performs the same function and has a generic alternative. Although it can be an awkward conversation, it’s worth taking a few extra moments to discuss options with your doctor, before panicking when your pharmacist gives you the total.
- Ask for samples. Doctors receive dozens of samples from manufacturers which they can give you at no cost. Sometimes you can leave with a bag full, saving you the cost of the first few weeks of your prescription.
- Find manufacturer coupons online. Look up your medication before you go to the store and print out coupons. Read the fine print, too, because you may be able use the same coupon more than once if you will be refilling the prescription.
- Ask about larger pills or larger quantities. Double doses of pills do not always cost twice as much. You may be able to save money by ordering the bigger doses and then cutting pills in half. You can also ask your doctor about prescribing a three-month supply, which often costs less than three individual co-pays.
- Utilize Patient Assistance Programs. Sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, these programs offer discounts for people with low to moderate incomes.
- If you don’t have insurance, head to the superstore. You can use the pharmacies at stores like Sam’s Club or Costco without being a member and find significantly lower prices than many grocers and convenient stores.
- If you do have insurance, go online to see your insurer’s list of medications that are covered. Sometimes there will be multiple drugs with the same function—like two drugs that treat cholesterol—and the co-payment on one will be less, even though the drug is not any less effective.
There are certain things that you cannot change –like the inevitability of bills or chronic illnesses—but, you may be able to pay less for the medications that enable you to stay on top of your health.
Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Debt.org, where she writes about personal finance and little smart ways to spend (and save) money. Alanna has an English degree from Rollins College.
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