11 Ways To Save Money On Prescription
Prescriptions are an expensive necessity for the average person. Many drug manufacturers begin each year by raising prices.
According to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation:
- 59% of Americans are currently taking at least one prescription medicine
- 1 – 4 Americans say they take four or more prescription drugs
- 79% say the cost of a prescription drug is unreasonable
Surprisingly, prescription prices are different depending on where you shop. In other words, two that have similar insurance can pay different prices for the same medication. Even if you are one of those people that are not struggling to pay for your medications, saving extra money is always plus.
We have no control over drug prices so until the legislature decides to regulate health care costs, here are a few ways to help you save money on prescription costs.
11 Ways to Save Money on Prescription: Table of Content
- Know where to shop
- Patient Assistance Programs (PAPS)
- Check Manufacturer Websites for Rebates & Coupons
- Buy Generic Drugs
- Mail Order Pharmacy
- Use a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account
- Obtain a NACo Card
- Compare Prices
- The Assistance Fund (TAF)
- Shop at a Canadian Pharmacy
- Local Programs
1. Know Where To Shop
There are chain pharmacies across the nation that offer free or discount antibiotics to their customers even without insurance!
For example, Publix Pharmacies offers a 90-day supply of Lisinopril, metformin, and amlodipine. Publix also offers a 14-day supply of some generic oral antibiotics.
- Publix Pharmacy – Offers FREE high blood pressure and diabetes medications
- Sam’s Club – Offers several medications for FREE to Sam’s Plus members
- Winn Dixie – Offers FREE select Amoxicillin, Penicillin, Metformin, and Sufameth/Trimeth
- Meijer – Offers some FREE select prenatals, Metformin Immediate Release, and Atorvastatin Calcium
- Kroger – Offers an RX Savings club that enables pharmacy customers to get a range of generic prescription drugs free or at a discount.
As a reminder, you don’t have to buy anything else from the store. In other words, you can pick up your free medication (with a prescription) and leave without making any other purchase. Many stores use this as a bait to get customers in the store in hopes that they will make additional purchases.
2. Patient Assistance Program
Patient assistance programs or pharmaceutical assistance program (PAPS) are created by pharmaceutical companies to help those in need obtain their medicines at no cost or very low cost.
I find it ironic that Pharmaceutical companies provide assistance programs rather than lower the cost of the drug. The method and manner that is used are irrelevant as long as those that need help get help.
Many pharmaceutical companies have information about their prescription assistance programs on their websites.
Unfortunately, not all Doctors know about the PAPS program. It helps rather than hurt to ask questions when you receive a prescription and do your research.
For example, when Epipen price skyrocketed to about $600 a few years ago, including a supply shortage, I did my research and discovered that there was a new generic. During that period, Auvi-Q developed their brand Epipen and also created the Auvi-Q Affordability program. The Doctor sent the prescription to Auvi-Q and our out of pocket cost was zero. Needless to say that before the price hike, I purchased Epipen brand name for $10.
If a Pharmaceutical company offers a PAPS program for your medication, print the form, and give it to the Doctor’s office to complete. Your goal is to reduce your out of pocket expenses.
3. Check Manufacturer Websites for Rebates & Coupons
With the costs of drugs going through the ceiling, people have turned to manufacturer coupons and rebates to offset costs. Many brand name drugs do not have a generic alternative, so Pharmaceutical companies increase the use of brand name drugs, offer coupons, and rebates to consumers.
The good thing is that this works for those that don’t have health insurance as well as those that do.
Even if you have insurance, these coupons can reduce the cost of insurance restricted drugs, drugs that require prior authorizations, or non-covered drugs. Occasionally, the final price of medication after a coupon can be lower than your insurance copay.
4. Buy Generic Drugs
Generic medicines use the same active ingredients as brand-name medicines and work the same way, so they have the same risks and benefits as the brand-name medicines
When next you are at the Doctor’s, ask if there’s a generic for the prescription you are taking. However, there are some Doctor’s that prefer brand names for certain medications. I have had a Doctor tell me not to take a generic medication, she gave me reasons why it was not a good fit for me, and I followed her recommendation.
Many national chains offer a 30-day supply of generic drugs for $4 and a 90-day supply for $10. On the other hand, it’s good to check to be sure the price does not go up using insurance. I have had an experience with the generic price being higher because I used insurance, so I made my purchase without insurance.
I believe in using generic medicine but I don’t believe they all work the same as the brand name. Use your judgment when choosing generic over brand name.
5. Mail Order Drugs Through a Pharmacy Benefit Manager
Some employers offer a mail-order pharmacy choice as part of their prescription benefits. Mail-order pharmacies operate through the insurer’s Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM).
If you use a mail-order service that doesn’t have an agreement with your insurer’s PBM, you may not receive coverage from your health plan. It’s best to contact your insurance benefits provider and check the requirements before you sign up.
You save money by using a mail-order pharmacy and best of all, the mediation is shipped directly to your home.
6. Use a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account
Many employers offer health spending accounts (HSAs) or Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to employees. If you have a HAS or FSA plan through a job, you can use the money to pay for copayments, deductibles, prescription, and some other health care costs with pre-tax earnings. Using a HAS or FSA can reduce your taxes.
In other words, you don’t pay taxes on this money. This means you’ll save an amount equal to the taxes you would have paid on the money you saved.
The rules for HSA and FSA differ slightly but overall, they both offer the opportunity to save money.
7. Live Healthy Discount Program formerly National Association of Counties (NACo) Prescription Drug Discount Card program
The NACo card is free prescription discount services available to anyone living in participating Counties in the U.S. The card was created for the uninsured and the under insured county residents nationwide.
It offers savings on prescriptions and services to support individuals and families. The NACo card saves you an average of 30% on the retail price of prescription medications.
To enroll, visit the NACo website and complete the online submission form. Enter your zip code to see if the program is available in your area. If you are a resident of a county, parish, or borough participating in the Live Healthy Discount Program, you are eligible.
8. Compare Prices
You don’t always get the best price using insurance. Prices differ from pharmacy to pharmacy depending on the location and volume of prescriptions. Always ask the pharmacist if there’s a way to lower the cost. They are privy to some information that consumers may not know.
Once you have determined what your options are among generics, lower-tiered, or branded drugs, these websites can help you determine their costs:
- Good Rx: Offers website and mobile app that track prescription drug prices in the United States at over 75,000 pharmacies. The site allows you to print out coupons you can take to your pharmacist.
- Pharmacy Checker: This site compare prices for local and online accredited international pharmacies. Their approved online pharmacy rating system checks if the pharmacy is licensed, a prescription is required, and proper protection is given for personal information and financial transactions.
- SingleCare: Offers price comparison by pharmacy. You can use SingleCare at over 35,000 pharmacies nationwide. The SingleCare site is user friendly and easy to use, displaying the cost at various local pharmacies and offering coupons to help you lock it in.
9. The Assistance Fund (TAF)
The Assistance Fund is a non-profit organization that helps under insured patients facing high medical out-of-pocket costs by providing financial assistance for their co-payments, coinsurance, deductibles, and other health-related expenses.
If TAF covers a disease, it will cover all FDA-approved medications for the treatment of that disease.
10. Shop at Canadian Pharmacy
As the cost of prescription drugs skyrockets, people that live along with the Canadian border head to there for prescription savings. They can fill their prescription for a fraction of the U.S. cost.
Not many of us have the luxury of living near the Canadian border. However, there are legitimate Canadian pharmacies online that you can use.
PharmacyChecker.com has a list of accredited Canadian pharmacies.
Although buying medications online can help you save money, there are also many risks involved. Here a few ways to help you identify safe online pharmacy:
- Allow you to buy medication without a valid prescription from your health care provider
- Offer low prices that seem too good to be true
- List of the physical address for the pharmacy
- Verify the seller through the National Association of State Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)
- Look for sites ending in .pharmacy as verification for NABP
- Check for Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) certification, which indicates the seller has passed rigorous vetting by the NABP
11. Local Programs
Many large counties in urban areas have county hospitals funded by tax dollars to help people without insurance. The county hospitals offer price breaks on prescriptions.
Other charitable organizations are offer price breaks for prescriptions.
Put Your Health First
Some people split pills but I don’t agree with that line of thought. I don’t recommend splitting pills or skipping doses to make your pills go further. Saving money is great but skipping a dose can create complications that could lead to serious health problems. Which would lead to even higher costs down the road.
As you can see, there are so many ways to save on prescription costs. You have to find out which way works best for you. By following the tips provided, you can get the medicine you need at a price you can afford.
How does your family reduce the cost of prescription?
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