Learn how to save big bucks on your essential medications and more.
Even if you only fill a few prescriptions a year, those totals at the pharmacy counter can add up. Your doctor isn’t necessarily thinking about your bank account when she pulls out her prescription pad, so don’t rely on her for the least expensive options. These five ways to save money on prescription drugs can put your mind—and your pocketbook—at ease.
1. Go generic
Most people know that generic drugs are less expensive than their brand name counterparts, but when you lay out the numbers in black and white, the potential savings are incredible. A medication that costs patients upwards of $20 might cost under $5 in its generic form. Many insurance providers also list “preferred” brand name medications and “non-preferred” drugs. Those on the “non-preferred” list are extremely expensive, while the generic versions can save you a bundle. If you have no choice but to purchase a brand name, make sure it is on your insurance provider’s “preferred” list. Your pharmacist can also make a notation in your file that you prefer generic alternatives.
2. Shop big box
A stand-alone pharmacy such as Rite-Aid or CVS is not always the best place to buy prescription drugs. Instead, try big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Target, which often have special deals on certain medications. Grocery stores such as Kroger also have savings plans such as $4 medications, even for patients without insurance. There are also ways to save money on other purchases when you buy prescriptions at big box stores. Read the advertisements of your favorite big box stores to catch great savings.
3. Order in bulk
If you have been given a recurring prescription that you will need to take for several months or years, order by mail. Your prescription benefit manager such as Caremark or Medco should have ordering requirements and information online. Mail-order purchases usually mean 90-day refills, so you won’t have to worry about a trip to the pharmacy every month. Just remember that if you want to order in bulk, your physician will need to write a 90-day prescription so you can fill it over the phone or online. Savings on mail-order purchases can amount to hundreds of dollars per year.
4. Communicate with your doctor
Don’t assume that your doctor is writing a prescription for the least-expensive drug on the market. Physicians often partner with drug companies through incentives and may have personal preferences, but these can be challenged. Ask about less-expensive alternatives and request that he always write a prescription for a drug that has a generic alternative. You can also ask your doctor about drugs for which he has a supply of free samples. Pharmaceutical companies often ship free samples to doctors, which means you could get a head start on your medication for free.
5. Get educated
One of the best ways to save money on prescription drugs is to know the score before going in to battle. Read the information you receive from your insurance provider carefully, noting any discounts or preferred drugs they offer. Visit Web sites such as Destination RX to learn about the drugs you take and whether there are any alternatives.
BONUS TIP: NEVER split pills to save money on prescriptions!