I am not a physician or a pharmacist. The following is for informational purposes only and should be treated as such.
I’ve worked in more than one different medical facility for most of the last 20 years holding several different clerical positions throughout that period. I am not now and have never been in a clinical position. However, I have been one of the bottom people on the totem pole as well as a part of upper management. This has enabled me to see a lot of the positives about the various medical professions. One of the negatives is, of course, cost.
It is unlikely anyone would argue with me that nearly every aspect of medical care is expensive. One area, though, outshines others consistently with its high costs. That area is prescription medications.
Like many people, you may be taking prescription medications on a daily basis. Even if you aren’t, you probably have taken physician ordered medicine at some point in your life due to an injury or illness. This means you already know how expensive they are when you get to the pharmacy counter to pay for them. But how can you save on prescription costs?
1. Talk with Your Provider
If your prescription costs seem to be out of control you should have a talk with your medical provider. There are some drug companies that provide samples to clinics to be given to their patients. You may be able to offset the cost of your medication somewhat by using these samples rather than filling an expensive script at the pharmacy.
2. Charity Care
Another reason to talk to the clinic where you receive care is to find out if they know of a pharmacy with a charity care program. If you have Medicare you might also be able to get assistance by going to the Medicare.gov website. Pharmaceutical hardship programs are designed to help you when you have a financial need, so do not be too embarrassed to inquire.
3. Switch to Generic
You may also be able to save on prescription costs by changing to a generic medicine. Always as your medical provider or pharmacist to make sure it is alright to do so first.
4. Price Shop
Are there multiple pharmacies in the town or city in which you live? If so, price shop to make sure you are getting the best price. You may be surprised to find you’ve been paying too much.
Sometimes switching pharmacies isn’t possible if your insurance requires you to go to a certain one, obviously, but it can’t hurt to ask.
Occasionally convenience comes into play. For example, if your pharmacy has a delivery service, are they charging you for it? If you haven’t checked to see if they are charging you for this service you should, especially if they make deliveries often. Perhaps you could pick up your medications instead and save several dollars per month on your prescription medications.
At times it isn’t worth saving a dollar or two to pick up needed medications yourself. Let’s say you are staying home because you are quite sick with strep throat. Due to its contagious nature, having your medications delivered is not only the smart thing to do it is the responsible thing to do.
6. Use a Pill Splitter
Please do not misinterpret the heading. I am not suggesting you only take half of the medication your provider orders. What I am saying is that sometimes, if the pill is a tablet, it is cheaper for your doctor to order it at double strength. Then, once you get it home, you can use a pill splitter to cut the pills in half to the correct strength.
One drawback of this is that there are medications that can’t be split safely. If you are in doubt. ask your doctor or pharmacist about the possibility of saving money by this method.
There are medications that can be ordered by your doctor in 3 month increments to save you money. It works because it doesn’t always cost 3 times as much to get 3 times the medication. That may sound strange, but I have experienced this phenomenon firsthand many times. If you take certain medications daily and have prescription coverage it can save you money. Just ask your doctor to write your prescription for 90 days instead of 30.
8. Over the Counter
Over the years there have been many prescription only medications that are now available over the counter, or OTC. These OTC medications may be cheaper than what your doctor orders but just as effective. If you don’t have a prescription plan this could be another way to save some money on your medications.
9. Come Prepared
Your pharmacist, while talented, cannot read your mind. You have a responsibility to provide them with the information they need in order to do the best possible job for you. That means you need to take your pharmacy card with you every time you go to pick up your medication and be prepared to present it to them if asked. Additionally, take your photo id. Without this information you may have to foot the entire bill for your prescriptions.
Pharmacies may also keep a copy of your current medications, vitamins, supplements, and allergies in their database. This information is needed in order for them to prevent medication interactions as well as adverse reactions to medications. You also have the responsibility to ensure their information is updated when it changes including dosage and frequency. Not updating this information could cost you more from picking up medications you can no longer take.
10. Limit Providers
While it isn’t always possible to limit the number of medical providers you deal with you should choose one general provider when you can. This can speed things up for your pharmacist if they have questions about a medication they are trying to fill for you. It may also prevent you from paying for a medication you do not need and no longer take.
There are several ways you can save on prescription costs. Discontinuing prescribed medication is not one of the recommended ways, however. There are prescriptions that have to be reduced slowly to prevent complications or death. Always consult your provider or pharmacist if you have any questions.
What are some of the ways you have saved on prescription costs?