Prescription drug costs are rising every year, forcing many Americans to make difficult choices about which medications they can afford. In fact, nearly 1 in 4 Americans report difficulty paying for prescribed drugs according to a recent Gallup poll.
The good news is there are many strategies you can use to reduce the amount you pay for the prescriptions you or your family need. This post will outline 13 smart tips to help you save money on medications.
Talk to Your Doctor About Lower Prescription Drug Costs Options
Discussing medication costs upfront with your doctor is key. Many people feel uncomfortable bringing up the price of prescriptions with their physician. However, your doctor wants to make sure you can access the treatments you need. Explain that you're having difficulty affording a particular drug and ask if there are any alternatives that are just as effective but more affordable.
Often doctors can prescribe generic drug options, which provide the same active ingredients at a fraction of the brand name price. Don't assume generics are lower quality - they must meet FDA bioequivalence standards.
Compare Prices at Local Pharmacies
Prescription drug prices can vary greatly between pharmacies, even within the same ZIP code. Call around or use online search tools to comparison shop. Ask each pharmacy for their price for the specific drug and dosage you need. Look up prices for both big chain and local independent pharmacies. This allows you to find the best deal in your area and potentially save a significant amount.
Consider Mail Order or Online Pharmacies
Many Medicare Advantage plans include preferred mail order pharmacies that offer savings on prescription fills. Even if you don't have Medicare, checking mail order prices can reduce costs.
Mail order pharmacies provide convenient home delivery, often at reduced pricing compared to local pharmacies. They efficiently fill high volumes of prescriptions. This lets them acquire drugs at lower prices and pass savings to consumers.
If enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan (MAPD), you will likely have lower copays when using your plan's preferred mail order pharmacy. Many MAPDs provide free home delivery. Be sure to check with your licensed insurance agent what you plan offers.
Even without insurance, compare your current medication costs to mail order pharmacy options. Reputable accredited mail pharmacies like Costco and OptumRx can provide easy home delivery and savings on generic and brand prescriptions.
Just remember to get your doctor's approval and a 90 day prescription to maximize mail order pharmacy savings on your medications.
Check If You're Eligible for Manufacturer Discounts
Many pharmaceutical companies offer discount programs and coupons to make brand name drugs more affordable. Eligibility requirements vary but are generally based on income, insurance status, geographic location or health conditions. Look up your prescription on the drug maker's website to find details on available savings programs. You can then apply online or through your doctor.
Use Free Prescription Discount Cards
Popular discount cards and apps like GoodRx and Blink provide an easy way to lower your prescription costs. Search for your medication on the program's website or app to find the discounted price at pharmacies near you. Compare this price to your insurance copay or the retail pharmacy price to determine the best deal.
Remember: You can't combine discount cards with insurance.
Ask About Splitting Higher Strength Pills
For certain long-term medications, you may be able to get a double strength pill prescribed and split each dose. This can essentially double your supply. However, you should only split pills if approved by your doctor for safety reasons. The FDA provides a list of medications that are safe to split. Use a proper tablet splitter, take halves from the same split pill, and store safely. Improper splitting can impact effectiveness.
Go With Generic Drugs Instead of Brand Name
Generic prescription drugs provide the biggest opportunity for savings, with prices 50-80% lower on average than branded drugs. If a generic exists for your brand name prescription, always ask your doctor if that lower cost option could work just as well for you. For commonly prescribed drugs like statins, SSRI antidepressants, levothyroxine and more, quality generics are widely available.
Consider Alternate Drug Formulations
Your pharmacist can advise if your medication comes in different formulations like tablets, capsules, liquids, powders, creams etc. In some cases, changing formulations - for example, switching capsule to tablet - can lower your costs for the same active drug. Ask your pharmacist if another formulation of your prescription could offer savings without impacting effectiveness or side effects.
Buy Larger 90-Day Supplies of Long-Term Drugs
Paying for a 90-day or 3-month supply of medications you take regularly or long-term can increase savings. Many pharmacies offer reduced pricing on higher quantity fills, whether by retail pickup or mail order delivery. Compare costs per unit to make sure the bulk fill provides true savings over a 30-day supply from the same pharmacy.
Look Into Patient Assistance Programs
Pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and nonprofits all offer prescription assistance programs if you qualify. Each program has eligibility criteria based on financial need, insurance status, medical condition and other factors. Use online patient assistance databases like NeedyMeds and RxAssist to find programs to cover the costs of your medications.
Use a Tax-Advantaged Health Savings Account for Prescription Drugs
Paying for prescriptions with pre-tax dollars saves you money. Sign up for an FSA or HSA if available through your employer. You can allocate pre-tax funds from each payroll deposit to pay for your out-of-pocket medication costs tax-free.
Explore Medicare and ACA Plan Drug Coverage
If you qualify for Medicare or purchase ACA health insurance, explore plans offering prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage plans often include Part D benefits. Compare options to find one with robust prescription benefits at low cost. ACA marketplace plans have different formularies and cost structures. Review drug coverage before picking a plan.
Get Free Wireless Phone Service to Access Prescription Medication Savings
Having a reliable phone and internet connection is crucial when searching for the best medication prices and utilizing prescription savings strategies. You'll need to call pharmacies, check drug pricing apps, look up manufacturer discounts, and more.
Over 40% of US households actually qualify for free cell phone service and high-speed data through the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program from the FCC.
EASY Wireless provides this free phone service with
- FREE Unlimited Talk
- FREE Unlimited Text
- FREE Unlimited Data*
- Choose to Keep Your Number or Get a New One
- FREE SIM Card Kit and Activation
- FREE Shipping to Your Door
... to those who qualify based on income, government program enrollment, or other criteria.
*Amount of data dependent on area of service and elgibility
With FREE cell service from EASY Wireless, the average person saves $50+ a month or over $600 a year!
Those savings can go a long way towards affording needed prescription medications.
Saving Money on Prescription Drug Costs Just Got EASYer
Using these strategies can provide significant savings on prescription costs for you and your family. Always consult with your physician or pharmacist before making major medication changes. Prescription affordability resources are available if you know where to look!