Saving Money on Prescription Drugs

by Guest Contributor · 3 comments

Prescription drugs are one of those items that we know are necessary, but the cost can make them a real budget buster. Some medications cost in excess of $100 each month, and for those people who take several drugs at once, the price tag quickly exceeds their ability to pay.

Before you opt out of taking medications you need, let’s look at some ways you can reduce your expense.

Check to See What Prescription Drugs are Covered

A formulary is a book that lists what medications your insurance company covers.

Make sure to ask your insurance company for a copy. Find out if your insurers have a limit for how much medication they will cover each year. Knowing in advance that your insurance company will only cover half a year may not be encouraging, but you can plan ahead and put money into a tax free medical account and save a bit there.

Comparison Shop for Lower Prices on Common Prescriptions

Common drugs have different costs at different locations. The local pharmacy charges me $97 for my prescription, but my warehouse club only charges $75. Over the course of the year I save over $140 by filling at the club.

When comparing prices consider online or mail service for your medications. Many insurance companies now cooperate with mail-in pharmacies, which charge less than the local stores. You do have to plan ahead more for this to work.

Talk to Your Doctor About Generic Drugs and Samples

Your doctor will be able to help you on several fronts. First, there may be a generic medication that is identical to the name brand one you are currently using. If so, switching can save you huge sums of money.

Secondly, your doctor gets free samples of many medications from drug company representatives. Generally speaking, the office is happy to hand out these samples to help you afford a medication you really need.

After a divorce and a big hit to the wallet, my doctor helped me out for several months. Yours should be willing to do the same.

Ask Your Doctor about Dosing Options

Discuss the possibility of getting a larger dosage and splitting the pills. While this technique won’t work with medications delivered by capsule, it is a great money saver for tablets.

That prescription I get for $75 at the club is actually a double dose. I found out that those 30 tablets of 10mg cost $72 and the same quantity of 20mg pills cost $75. I fill my script every other month, and save $450 each year on top of the savings offered by the club’s lower price.

Ask the Pharmacy about Discount Cards

Finally, take a look at getting a prescription discount card or seeing if you qualify for a free medicine program. Many states have such programs to assist people on a limited budget get the medications they need.

Unfortunately, aging can result in a contradictory situation. Just as your income is decreasing your need for prescription drugs can increase. Finding ways to cut that bill may be the difference between making it to the end of the month or not, so be proactive and reduce your cost as soon as you can.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

KM August 28, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Another thing that can bypass the capsule dose problem and be useful for regular tablets is writing a prescription for 90 days, which sometimes costs the same as 30 days (but insurances will not always cover it, so it doesn’t always work). A better way is not to increase the dose, but the frequency with which the medicine needs to be taken, such as 3 times a day instead of once. Maybe some doctors will not go for this because of legal reasons, but it seems like the same loophole as a double dose, just more versatile.

But samples is a great option and I have a huge supply of samples of different doses because my dose changes often and I usually don’t use all of it before I have to switch again. Thyroid medicine is cheap, but when you have to take it for the rest of your life, it can add up, so I never throw any of it away.

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Moneyedup August 29, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Asking about generic drugs and samples can be a great way to save money. Why pay more for an expensive brand named drug if a generic brand does the exact same thing? Always ask your pharmacist’s advice about this first though.

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Seo Guru August 30, 2010 at 7:43 pm

My mother’s prescription drug cost a whopping $150 a month before and that was reduced by half when we asked her doctor if it is possible to change the prescribed drugs. The doctor had changed it and had even recommended getting the generic ones. Oh well, you see, some doctors may recommend an expensive drug on you since they may have some commission or on the paycheck of the drug company. Asking them of other options may not hurt you. Try it.

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