Saving money on prescriptions

Saving money is a necessity across the board but when it comes to prescription costs, you want to ensure that you’re doing cutting your costs wisely without running around to a half dozen stores each and every month or taking unnecessary risks by ordering meds from unscrupulous and unknown sources. There are a number of ways to save on your necessary prescriptions
without going without them—and you can save regardless of whether you pay cash, have private insurance or are a Medicare recipient.

Price Shop: If you pay cash for your prescriptions, you can and should price shop for your prescriptions at your local stores—including major drug, discount and warehouse stores. Even if you’re not a member of a warehouse store, you can still use their pharmacy. And some local and national pharmacies will even price match the lowest, local price that you’ve found so you might
not even have to transfer your prescription in order to save money each and every month.

Store Prescription Programs: Many national drug stores and discount stores offer a multitude of generic drugs for as low as $4 for a 30 day supply or $10 for a 90 day supply. The formularies, or drugs covered, can and do vary from chain to chain so check to see where, if anywhere, that your prescription is included on the low cost formulary. Bear in mind that some, but not all, of the pharmacies require that you pay an annual fee in order to use their low cost programs—and not all pharmacies will allow you to partake in their discount programs if you are a Medicare recipient. So check around to determine which store or stores will provide the best benefit—and you can find most of the information online at each stores’ website.

The low cost generic programs might save you money even if you have insurance as the out of pocket cost might be even lower than your co-pay. And, if you’re a Medicare recipient by paying out of pocket for your generic drugs—even if you have a zero dollar co-pay for generics, paying cash at the pharmacy rather than your co-pay may help keep you out of the ‘doughnut’ hole as the cost of the prescription won’t count against your total drug cost.

Mail Order: If you have insurance, your insurance company may charge you a lower co-pay if you fill your prescriptions through the insurance company’s mail order division rather than at your local pharmacy. In general, you will pay 2 months’ co-pay for a 3 months’ worth of your prescription—said another way, it’s like getting buy 2 months, get one month FREE. Just be sure to refill your prescriptions with enough time to allow your prescriptions to be shipped by the lowest price shipping method or even free shipping—waiting until the last minute will cost you additional shipping costs which will negate your savings.

Please note that mail order is very different from non-reputable online pharmacies—particularly those that are not based in the United States—the FDA has found that many of those so-called online “pharmacies” are not delivering authentic medication but rather providing expired or counterfeit medications to those who need it most. With so many other legitimate sources of savings, it’s not worth jeopardizing something as precious of your health and safety to just to save a few bucks.

Coupons/Discount Cards: Many drug companies are issuing coupons and discount cards to lower your out of pocket costs, if you pay cash—or lower your co-pay, if you have insurance. Coupons can be found both at your doctor’s office as well as printed online—you can find a constantly updated list at a website devoted to prescription coupons:

www.internetdrugcoupons.com/

Another type of coupon is issued by stores themselves—many stores offer gift cards for new or transferred prescriptions. You can periodically find these coupons in the weekly fliers that come in the Sunday newspaper, as well as in store or mailed to your home if you’re signed up for stores’ mailing lists. Many stores will accept a coupon from a competitor as though it was their own.

Bear in mind that most coupons and discount cards—either those issued from drug manufacturers or from stores themselves— are NOT valid if you have any form of governmental coverage, including Medicare and Medicaid. 

Medicare: If you are a Medicare recipient you should both ensure that the drug coverage plan that you’ve choose during the open enrollment period at the end of each calendar year is the most appropriate one for the prescriptions that you’re currently on—you can check whether your drugs are covered by checking each plan at medicare.gov. Additionally, you can and should contact the Social Security administration to see whether you qualify for what’s called “Extra Help”, a sliding scale, income based program that provides additional funding to help cover your prescription drug costs—you can even determine whether you qualify and apply online— check here: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp/

PPARx.org: A consortium of drug companies has banded together to help those who need assistance in paying for their prescriptions—you can find details about prescription assistance at PPARX.org. If you cannot afford your prescriptions, it’s worthwhile to apply to receive discounted and possibly even free prescriptions directly from the manufacturers themselves.

Regardless of which savings method you choose, please ensure that you let the pharmacist know about ALL of the medications, including over the counter medication, vitamins and supplements—that you’re currently taking to ensure that they’ll be able to ward off any potential drug-to-drug interactions. Saving money on necessary medications is fabuLESS, ending up hospitalized or worse from a drug-to-drug interaction is NOT.