Whether you take generic medications or high-cost specialty drugs, chances are you’re paying more out of your own pocket for prescriptions than you used to. You can still save money, though — here’s how.
1. Make sure your medication is covered. All insurance plans have a list of drugs they will help pay for, called a formulary. To prevent sticker shock at the pharmacy, check the formulary to see whether the medication you’ve been prescribed is covered by your plan and how much of its cost you’re expected to cover.
2. Go generic.The difference in cost between generic and name-brand medications can be extreme – in some cases the brand is 10 times more expensive than the generic version. Talk with your doctor about whether the medication you need is available in generic form.
3. Shop around. The cost of prescription drugs varies widely from one pharmacy to another. A report out last year by Consumer Reports found that the cost of five commonly prescribed generic medications varied by as much as 447% between the highest and lowest prices for the same medication.
Prices even vary within the same pharmacy chain. The same store just down the road may sell the medication for less.
4. Don’t assume insurance offers the best price. Even if your health insurance covers your medication, your co-pay might not give you the lowest price. If you’ve been prescribed a generic, you may want to check chain stores, such as Target and Walmart for prices on your prescription. Their prices for many generics are often cheaper than the average health insurance co-pay – some costing as low as $ 4.
5. Split pills. If your medication comes in the form of scored pills, you might be able to save a lot of money by ordering a higher dose of pills that you can then split to the proper dosage to the proper dosage. So, if your doctor prescribes 20 milligrams of a particular medication, ask if he or she can prescribe the same drug in 40-milligram pills. In some cases, the larger milligram pills are cheaper. Once you split them they become even more so.
6. Consider using drug discount cards. They can lower the cost of medications by as much as 80%. The discounts change from one month to the next, though, so check before using the card each time you fill your prescriptions.
And a couple of tips: First, don’t buy discount cards that charge a fee. Second, you’ll have to choose between using insurance or the card – you can’t use both for the same purchase.
7. Look for financial assistance. If you’re having trouble affording your medications, resources are available to assist you. You can check Needymeds.org for free information on thousands of programs, a listing of free, low-cost, or sliding-scale clinics, as well as drug-maker discount coupons and co-pay programs.
And many of the big pharmaceutical companies offer programs to make medications available to patients at no- or low-cost. You can check sites such as rxassist.org, pparx.org, and benefitscheckup.org to locate programs.
Are prescription drugs costs a concern for you? Have you found ways to save?