When you need prescription medication, it can be hard to know how to pay for it. If you’re not insured by your employer or government, and you don’t have private insurance, the costs can add up fast. Prescription medications are expensive, and there are ways to find cheaper alternatives or save money on prescriptions. Here are five tips to help you save money on prescription drugs:
1. Don’t Let Your Insurance Company Hold You, Hostage
Many people only realize how much they’re paying for their health care after they’ve left their employer and entered the individual market. That’s because many insurance companies don’t disclose their rates until you actually have coverage with them. If you’re shopping around for an individual policy, look at premiums first, then see what kind of deductible you’ll have to meet before coverage kicks in. The lower the premium and deductible, the higher your monthly out-of-pocket costs will be if something does happen — but that’s a tradeoff many people are willing to make for more comprehensive coverage. If you’re healthy now but anticipate needing more care in the future, it’s worth considering how much those extra services might cost.
2. Ask Your Doctor If There are Less Expensive Alternatives Available
If you have a chronic illness and take prescription medications, your medical bills can be high. To help offset these costs, you may want to consider switching to generic drugs. Generic drugs are cheaper than brand-name drugs because they don’t require the same research, development, and marketing costs. As such, they are often less expensive for consumers than their brand-name counterparts. Although generics can save you money, there are still many reasons why people prefer brand-name medications over generics. For example, brand names may be more effective or safer than generics.
Some people prefer the convenience of knowing that if something goes wrong with their medication, the company will stand behind its product. (Although this isn’t necessarily true—many companies don’t offer a money-back guarantee.) Some people feel more comfortable taking a drug that is familiar to them or that has worked well in the past. To save money on your prescriptions, ask your doctor if there are less expensive alternatives available that still meet your needs.
3. Check For Coupons and Discounts
Many employers offer coupons or discounts on certain medications. If your employer has a coupon or discount program, you can use it if you pay for your prescriptions out-of-pocket (not with insurance). You can use the coupons to get discounts on most brand-name and generic drugs. Some coupons are available only at participating pharmacies. Also, a prescription discount card can save you money on medications. Some health plans also offer discounts through their PBMs for certain generic drugs that are used to treat chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The PBM negotiates these discounts with drug makers so that participants don’t have to pay more out of pocket for their medications than necessary.
4. Take Advantage of Free Healthcare Services
One of the best ways to save money on prescription drugs is by taking advantage of free health care services. Many states have programs that provide free or low-cost medical care for children, adults, and seniors. You can find these programs by contacting your local county or city health department, or by searching online for “free health care” in your state.
5. Compare Prices at Different Pharmacies
Most people don’t realize that different pharmacies can charge wildly different prices for the same drug. It pays to shop around for the best deals on prescriptions. In many cases, you can save up to 50% or more by using a different pharmacy. If you have insurance, check your health plan’s pharmacy finder tool to see if there are any mail-order pharmacies available in your area that offer lower co-pays and deductibles. The best way to find out what your local pharmacies charge is to check out GoodRx.com. You can enter the name of your medication, and it will show you the average price per pill in your area. If one pharmacy is charging significantly more than another, call around until you find one that’s more affordable.
When you’re trying to save money on prescription medication, make sure to follow the best practices to do so. The more effort you put into saving money on prescriptions, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to find a way to do so. Just remember to be diligent and keep investigating your options, and you’ll be well on your way to saving money on those prescription purchases.