1st A big DON’T! Don’t Skip Doses! More than 12% of U.S. adults have skipped doses or not filled a prescription at all in order to save money. Depending on the prescription, this can be very dangerous to your health and cost you more money in the long run.
Here are 12 Tips that could help you save money on your prescriptions. You’ll have to do some research on your own in order to find out for sure which one saves you the most.
1) Call Your Insurance Provider: If you have medication insurance, always check with your provider first to see if your drug is covered and how much the co-pay will be. Calling is usually easier than trying to decode the names on their formulary list. Most will have an “RX price quote” or similar button on their website, and most prescriptions can be entered there to give an accurate display of the price at a pharmacy or via mail order for one month or three months
2) Compare Medicare Part D vs. Supplemental Insurance: If you’re retiring and your medications will no longer be covered by your company’s health insurance plan, comparing stand-alone prescription drug plans or Medicare Advantage plans can be overwhelming. There are several free tools online that can help you compare your options.
The federal government’s site, Medicare.gov, helps users sift through different health plans and compare them three at a time, side by side. PlanPrescriber differs from Medicare.gov in the amount of time it takes for a user to go through the search process. The starting questionnaire is shorter, and its prescription drug-finding tool is also simpler. ExtendHealth.com allows you to compare up to five plans at a time online, and the company also has 1,200 advisers during Medicare Enrollment Season who can help you over the phone, says Bryce Williams, the company’s former CEO.
3) Request Generic: Always ask your Dr. if the prescription is the generic version vs. the brand name. Some brand names might work better, but the generic will always save you money, so start with that if you can. Also, most insurance companies will pay a bigger percentage of the generic cost than for the brand name. Some will not cover the brand name version at all. Your Dr. may not know this.
4) Ask Your Dr. for a 90-Day Supply: If your insurance allows it, a 90-day supply of a drug you always take can save money on co-pays, and you’ll save again by making fewer trips to the pharmacy. The Dr. has to write that amount on the prescription, along with the number of refills, if any.
5) Ask Your Pharmacist: A good pharmacist will give you information on drug options your Dr. might not have thought about, and even recommend or even contact a location that has a cheaper price or more consistent availability. But you have to ask and tell them your concerns.
6) There’s an App for That: Several people I asked suggested I try GoodRX. I went to their site and entered the name of my most expensive prescription. Even though I regularly get it at from what they said would be my 2nd-least-expensive pharmacy, they also came up with a coupon that would save me $15.00.
Certified Pharmacy Technician, Bonnie Lythgoe says, “These types of discount cards or apps are not insurance plans, and they cannot be combined with regular insurance. Although they may promise to save ‘up to 75%,’ the actual cost or co-pay often does not reflect the savings promised. This is totally legal and NOT the fault of the pharmacy, so use them with care. That being said, I’ve seen some amazing discounts off of GoodRX. It is the best internet discount card I’ve seen over the last year or two.”
7) Compare Apps and Discount Plans: App features and discount plans can vary. OneRx says it’s the only prescription savings app that lets you securely input your insurance info to see co-pays, along with discount card savings, manufacturer coupons and patient assistance program (PAP) information across all FDA-approved medications. Some other apps and plans you should compare with your specific needs in mind include WeRX, LowestMed and NPSN Mobile Rx Discount Card.
Check with your pharmacist about special programs or discount cards. Some pharmacies offer plans where people can get 30-day prescriptions of certain medications for as low as $4.00. Pharmacists will also know if drug companies are running promotions. They might be able to give you manufacturers’ coupons for certain drugs that can be used with insurance, with some exceptions, such as state Medicaid and Medicare Part D.
Lythgoe adds, “I always recommend that my patients ask for a coupon from the Dr. if the prescription is for a brand name drug. Usually, the Dr. will offer a discount card or coupon produced by the manufacturer, if they have one, per the agreement they made with the pharmaceutical rep, but sometimes they forget. They might also have free samples for you to try.”
8) Call Around: Drug prices and availability can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. My neighbor, Alicia Russell, said, “I second checking with GoodRX, but also call around to different pharmacies yourself. When I was pregnant, I was on an anti-nausea med that was so expensive at most pharmacies, but pretty affordable through one random pharmacy I found that accepted the manufacturer’s coupon.
9) Ask the Manufacturer: We’ve all heard drug commercials on TV that say, “If you can’t afford to pay for ____, we might be able to help.” Most drug companies offer patient assistance programs. If you qualify—each manufacturer has different standards—you might get free or reduced-cost medications. Send a note to the company through their website. Or ask your pharmacist for help reaching out to the right place.
10) Order by Mail: My insurance company used to require that we get our prescriptions from the mail order company they had a partnership with. It was convenient to not have to pick up a prescription, but I still had to request refills, and I had to be careful to order them at the right time so I wouldn’t run out before the delivery time.
Some people order medications by mail from Canada or Mexico, or even travel across the border to get them. The price at a pharmacy outside of the U.S. may seem like a huge discount, but a great deal isn’t one if you aren’t really getting the drug you need. Check with your Dr. or pharmacist. Also beware of illegal pharmacies on the internet. They could be sending you fake or incorrect prescriptions. Legitimate pharmacies will ask for a faxed prescription from a licensed Dr. and a detailed medical history. They will also clearly state their payment, privacy and shipping fees, according to FBI warnings.
11) Contribute to a Medical Savings Plan: If your employer offers it, contribute to the company’s Medical Savings Plan. The money goes into the plan tax-free. You have to submit bills for your out-of-pocket medical expenses to be reimbursed by the plan. Some plans even allow you to use what you’ve saved on certain over-the-counter drugs. The catch is that, if you don’t use the money you put into the plan, you lose it at the end of the year. So you have to carefully estimate what your expenses will be in order to decide how much to have withheld.
12) Split a Higher Dose in Half: “You could try getting a higher dose and splitting it in half,” suggests Mohamed Jalloh, a spokesman for the American Pharmacists Association. “Some insurance companies charge based upon the quantity of medications, so by doubling the strength…and cutting it in half, you may only be charged for 15 whole tablets instead of 30 whole tablets.” Check with your Dr. or pharmacist first, because some pills shouldn’t be split.
If you have a loved one who has difficulty remembering to take their medications on time, a member of the Dakota Home Care staff can provide medication reminders, or in certain situations administer medications under the supervision of a registered nurse. Call us anytime at (701) 663-5373 for a free, in-home consultation.