How to Save on Your Prescriptions
In recent years, prescription drug costs have steadily risen. In the last 20 years, the price of prescriptions has increased by nearly 75%, with costs projected to rise even more in the next decade. With prices dangerously high, many Americans are put at risk. In a recent survey, nearly 40% of Americans reported that they struggled to pay for their prescription medications. 20% even said that they had difficulties paying for basic necessities, like food and shelter, as a result. Rising costs mean that over 130 million people now face barriers to the medications they need, which increases the chance of skipped refills, missed doses, and unintended health problems as a result.
The problem of drug pricing is not an easy fix, and it requires large-scale change. As changes are being made, though, you can take steps to reduce the costs of your prescriptions and mitigate potential costs that may get in the way. Your greatest asset in saving is taking a trip to your local community pharmacy. Often, community pharmacies are more affordable than larger chains, especially for uninsured patients. Your community pharmacist has more flexibility to adjust the price of your prescriptions, and they are willing to put in the extra effort to help you save.
On your next trip to the pharmacy, talk to your pharmacist about what options you have available 一 including these 7 tips for savings 一 and find out how you can cut costs. Your prescriptions are a key part of maintaining your health, so it is important that you have access to them. Don’t let costs inhibit you: be proactive in your approach and increase your savings.
Ways to Save at Your Community Pharmacy
- Choose an affordable pharmacy 一 When you shop for something new, you probably compare the prices of different retailers. Your prescription medications should be no different. To get your savings started, talk to a few different community pharmacies and ask about their prices. Use our Pharmacy Finder to locate pharmacies in your area, then give them a call to discuss the medications you need. While on your call, take note of pricing and other important considerations in order to find the best choice for you. Taking this extra step to compare pharmacies can get you the best rate and the most savings.
- Ask about price matching 一 Even if you already have a local pharmacy, it can still be helpful to look at prices elsewhere and make sure that you get the lowest rate. If you do find a better price somewhere else but still want to do business with your pharmacy, ask about price matching. Often, your pharmacy will be willing to lower the price of medications from nearby pharmacies. Price matching helps them to stay competitive and saves you money in the process.
- Look for coupons or discounts 一 As another way to save, you can rely on special offers from your pharmacy or from the drug manufacturer your medications come from. At the pharmacy, ask about coupons, discounts, or promotions that may help you save. Check with your pharmacist in person or via social media to find out more. Even if your pharmacy isn’t offering discounts, though, your drug manufacturer may be. Manufacturers sometimes offer savings that your pharmacist can pass on to you or that you can get directly.
- Ask for a cheaper generic 一 When your doctor prescribes you a medication, they may suggest a name-brand drug. Name-brands can be expensive, though, and set you back more than you need to pay. As an alternative, it may be wise to ask your pharmacist about getting a generic version. Generics contain the same active ingredient as name-brand medications, so they can be easily swapped out and produce the same results. Generics are typically 80-85% less expensive, too, so find out if your pharmacy has one on hand. Or, for a fool-proof plan, order a generic ahead of time so that you can be sure your pharmacy has it in stock.
- Buy in bulk 一 When most patients go to refill prescriptions, they typically buy the amount they need for the next 30 days. Sometimes, though, it can be more cost-efficient to get a 90-day supply of medication. In fact, a recent study suggests that a 90-day supply can decrease out-of-pocket costs by 29%. At your next pharmacy visit, ask about your particular medication and find out if it is available to buy in bulk. Not only can a bulk supply help you to save money, but it can reduce the number of times you need to visit the pharmacy.
- Apply for a prescription assistance program 一 Even with resources from the pharmacy, you may still need help paying for your medication. There are a number of prescription assistance programs available to you, both from the government and from nonprofit organizations. These programs are based on your income and individual needs, but if you qualify, they can cut your costs significantly. Federal programs like Medicare Extra Help and state assistance programs can help, as well as organizations like Partnership for Prescription Assistance. Find out if you qualify for any of these programs and ask your pharmacist about any questions you may have.
- Consider paying cash 一 Your insurance is designed to make your medications more affordable, but sometimes, it can actually cost you. For certain medications, your insurance co-pay may be more expensive than what you would pay without it. In situations like these, it is better to pay in cash. Cash pay can cut out third-party expenses and increase your savings. Ask your pharmacist about your payment options so that you don’t spend more than you need to.
Your Pharmacist, On Your Side
The problem of prescription drug pricing is one of the greatest threats to the American healthcare system. It makes medications less affordable, less accessible, and leaves patients to deal with the consequences. Drug pricing is an ongoing issue that community pharmacists are working to fight against. In the meantime, though, you can look to them to lower prices and give you the best rate for your medications. Community pharmacists are on your side, and helping you save is just one way they show it.