High prescription drug costs can be challenging to manage. One study showed that 28 percent of Americans (of pre-Medicare age) don’t take their prescriptions as written because of the price. In some cases, they are skipping doses, taking less than they should, delaying refills, or forgoing the prescription medication entirely. This can put the person’s health in jeopardy, though many feel that they don’t have any other choice if they are struggling to afford their medication. However, there are things some people can do to reduce the cost. Here are some prescription hacks that could potentially save people thousands.
First and foremost, it’s always best to shop around before you fill a prescription. Pharmacies charge different prices, regardless of whether you have insurance or not. You could end up paying significantly more at one pharmacy than another for the exact same medication.
Contact various pharmacies in your area and ask them what each of your prescriptions would cost. Don’t ask for the total price for all of your medications, as some pharmacies may be cheaper for some but not others.
If you don’t want to make all of those calls, you can also use a prescription drug cost comparison site. For example, GoodRx has information from tens of thousands of pharmacies, so its data might be enough.
Use More Than One Pharmacy
While going to more than one pharmacy might not be as convenient as only using one, it could help you save a bundle. After you find out which ones have the lowest prices on each of your prescriptions, you might want to have your medications handled at a few different pharmacies, especially if the cost difference is substantial.
Skip Your Insurance
Many people assume that, if they have prescription drug coverage, they are getting a better deal than people without insurance. However, that isn’t always the case.
Depending on your insurer’s arrangements with pharmacies, as well as your deductibles and copays, you could actually end up spending more by using your insurance. This means, by telling your pharmacy to skip the insurance, you could actually save money.
Before you fill a prescription, find out what it would cost if your insurance wasn’t involved. Sometimes, the amount you can save is dramatic.
Just keep in mind that, if you use this approach, your prescription drug spending won’t go towards your deductible automatically. You might need to contact your insurance to see if there is a way to apply those purchases or live with the fact that they won’t help cover your deductible.
A lot of people don’t know that you can find coupons for prescription drugs. In some cases, the medication manufacturer issues coupons. They may be readily available to anyone or be offered through specific programs, such as those that aim to help people afford their medications.
Get Larger Supplies
If you’re on a long-term maintenance drug, you might want to see if your doctor can alter your prescriptions so you can get a larger supply. Sometimes, instead of picking up a 30-day supply, you can save by getting a 90-day supply.
For example, if you got three 30-day supplies, you may pay three insurance copays. But, if you got one 90-day supply instead, you only pay a single copay. That’s a 66 percent savings right there.
Switch to a Generic
Name brand medications usually cost more than their generic counterparts. Unless there is a specific reason you need the name brand, switching to a generic might be a good idea. You’ll need to discuss the option with your doctor, as it does have to be authorized by them. But, if one is available, you could save a ton by going generic.
Get Bigger Doses and Use a Pill Splitter
If your pills can be safely split, then asking your doctor for a larger dose and investing in a simple pill-splitter could help you save. Often, the price difference between the dosages is minimal, if one exists at all. As a result, you might be able to functionally get twice the medication for the same price you’re paying now.
It’s important to note that not all medications can be split. If your using capsules, coated tablets, or anything that’s designed to be extended- or slow-release, it can’t be safely split.
Use Your Insurer’s Mail-Order Service
In most cases, if your insurer has a mail-order service for prescriptions, using it is more cost-effective than heading to a pharmacy. This is especially true if you get 60- or 90-day supplies and your need for your medication is predictable, such as having to take one pill a day.
Usually, this approach isn’t ideal for medications that you use as-needed. Since it can take a couple of weeks for a refill to be delivered, any prescription that you take on an unpredictable schedule might not be a great fit. You could end up running out before the refill arrives, so it’s best to take those to a local pharmacy instead.
Sometimes, the only way to lower your prescription costs may be to change medications entirely. This isn’t going to be an option for some but, for those who can make a switch, it could result in a substantial savings.
If there are several medications that could potentially treat your condition, speak with your doctor about all of your options. Discuss why your physician chose the one you are on now and if another could be a suitable alternative.
Take Other Steps to Reduce Your Need for Prescriptions
Certain conditions are what they are. No matter what you do, you’ll need a particular prescription until the condition clears or, in the case of chronic ones, indefinitely.
However, not all medical conditions fall in that category. You may be able to reduce your need for prescriptions by taking other steps, like improving your eating habits, getting more exercise, or living a healthier lifestyle.
If that’s the case, those efforts may be able to help you save a significant amount. Plus, by improving your health, you could reduce your chances of getting other conditions in the future that might require medications.
Do you have any tips that can help people save on their prescription drugs? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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