Call me naive, but I had assumed that my health insurance gave me the lowest price on my prescriptions. I’d approach the pharmacy window, bracing myself to hear how much it will cost me, and swipe my card without question. It wasn’t until recently that I learned that using my insurance doesn’t always guarantee me the lowest cost on my prescriptions.
Here are some of the useful tips that I learned to help me save money on prescriptions.
Consider Paying Retail Price
First of all, you might actually find that the insurance price is more than the retail price without insurance. Both Consumer Reports and U.S. PIRG found this is often the case. Ask the pharmacist how much the prescription would cost if you didn’t use your insurance. Check for Generic or Over the Counter Before you swipe your card and pay for a prescription, check to see if there is a less-expensive option, such as an over-the-counter equivalent. For example, a doctor could write you a prescription for Ibuprofen, but purchasing it over-the-counter instead might save you money.
You could also see if there is a generic version of the drug. The generic version of a drug would have the same active ingredients as the brand-name drug but is less expensive. If there isn’t a generic version, you could also ask for a similar drug that does have a generic version.
Prices on prescriptions vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. You could save yourself a significant amount of money by shopping around a little bit. But don’t worry, hunting for the best price doesn’t have to be tedious. Websites such as GoodRx and WeRx.org can show you prices at different pharmacies in the area. Independent pharmacies, as well as Costco and Sam’s Club, also tend to have lower prices.
Purchase a Larger Dose
If your medication can be divided with a pill splitter, you might want to see if your doctor can double the prescription dose. For example, if you are prescribed 200-milligrams of a particular medication, you could see if the doctor could prescribe 400-milligram tablets. You would then split those tablets into 200-milligram pills. The prescription would cost you just as much as purchasing a bottle of 200-milligram tablets, only you are getting double the amount once you split them.
Look Into Discount Programs
Certain discount programs also help you save some money on prescriptions. For example, GoodRx provides coupons that could make your prescription price even lower than if you paid with insurance. BlinkHealth is another discount program that can offer you a discounted rate on medication. How it works is you purchase your medication using the BlinkHealth app, then pick up your prescription at the pharmacy. This is often a lower price than what the standard customer at the pharmacy pays because BlinkHealth negotiated the price down a little with the pharmacy.
Consider Mail-In Options
Another way to save money on prescriptions is by utilizing a pharmacy’s mail-order services. Pharmacies offer services such as these because it lowers the overhead cost of staffing a brick-and-mortar pharmacy.
Purchase a Larger Supply
If you are purchasing a prescription that you know you’ll be using on a long term basis, you might want to ask your pharmacist about the cost difference between a 30-day supply and a 90-day supply. Pharmacies often offer a discount if you purchase pills in bulk with a 90-day supply.
Open a Health Savings Account or Flexible Savings Account
You can potentially save money by opening up a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Savings Account (FSA). These accounts allow customers to pay for medical expenses (such as prescriptions) with pre-tax earnings. But watch out for particular rules connected to FSA and HSA accounts. For example, in some cases (such as with the FSA) you have to spend all of your money that year because it won’t roll over into the next.
Several prescription assistance programs are made available by state and local governments, nonprofit groups, Medicare, and more. If you feel your income falls within a certain range, you might be eligible. Here are some of the assistance programs:
- Needy Meds
- Partnership for Prescription Assistance
- State Assistance Programs
- Medicare Extra Help
If you are on Medicare, you also might want to look into upgrading your plan to reduce your prescription copays.
As you can see, doing just a little legwork could save you a significant amount of money on prescriptions. Talk with your pharmacist about different options, compare prices, and seek out programs that offer discounts or assistance. If you have health insurance, don’t assume that it is giving you the lowest price possible on your prescriptions.
1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannepinder/2017/11/03/save-money-on-prescriptions-8-easy-hacks/#16eb72191336 2. https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/how-save-money-prescription-drugs-ncna990111 3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/7-ways-save-cash-prescription-drugs-2017051811638 4. https://www.moneycrashers.com/ways-save-cost-prescription-drugs/