Even if you have insurance, the cost of prescription drugs is only going up year after year. In just one month, prices of some of the most popular drugs increased by 10%.
With or without insurance, the cost might feel so extreme that you're tempted to skip out on vital medications. Skipping medication could be harmful--and ultimately even more costly than the drugs themselves.
But there are ways to work around the system, bring down the cost, and find great deals for the prescriptions that you need.
Here are 7 simple tips you can use to save on drugs--so you can get your prescriptions without sacrificing too much of your hard earned money.
1. Try the Generic Option:
Generic drugs are just as good as brand-name medications. They have the same active ingredients, are often the same strength, and meet the same quality standards. But they're generally much less expensive.
Depending on the type of drug and the pharmacy, changes in price can differ. Here are a few examples:
- Lipitor costs $390, but the generic version sells for $20
- Prozac costs $173, but the generic version sells for $10
- Vasotec costs $104, but the generic version sells for $19
- Zestril costs $98, but the generic version sells for $30
Always ask your doctor if the generic version is available--or if there's a similar drug with a generic version.
2. Get a Larger Dose:
In many cases, prescription medications can be cheaper in larger doses. This means buying a 90 day supply instead of a 30 day supply might be much cheaper per pill.
It's not just the dosage--the size of the pill can be a factor as well. For example, you might find 10mg pills that are much cheaper than 5mg pills. You can then buy a dose of the 10mg pills and split them in half.
However, some pills can't be split, such as capsules or tablets that release slowly over time or are enteric coated. Some medications might not work as effectively when they're split. Be sure to ask your doctor if pill splitting a larger dose is an option.
Types of pills that you can easily split include Ambien, Viagra, Lipitor, Zoloft, Serzone, and Zyprexa.
3. Shop Around for a Better Price:
Sometimes the first price you find isn't the best one. Try comparing drug prices at different pharmacies, supermarkets, retailers, and online stores.
Prices can vary from chain to chain. It can even vary among stores within the same chain.
Once you've compared all price options, you can then decide which one works best for you. You might end up buying different drugs from different stores--but it could save you a lot of money.
As you're shopping around for the best price, ask if you can pay in cash. Sometimes the medication cost in cash can be lower--even lower than the price with insurance. You won't know for sure until you ask.
Interested in working as a pharmacy technician at pharmacies like Walgreens, CVS, and more? Check out this website to learn more about this career path.
4. Find a Foreign Pharmacy:
In the U.S., several large corporations control the prices of most medications. In order to increase profit, these companies can sometimes boost medication prices much more than they're worth.
The most well-known example of this is Martin Shkreli, who raised the price of a vital drug by 5,000%.
If you live close to the border or you can buy prescription medications online, try looking at Canada, Mexico, or even Europe to try and find a cheaper option. Foreign pharmacies can offer prices up to 75% less than the U.S. prices.
5. Apply for Assistance:
If the price of your medications is still too high, you can look to prescription assistance programs.
State and local governments, Medicaid insurance, non-profit groups, and even drug companies. Different groups have different requirements--some of them you'll only have access to if your combined income and assets meet a low enough threshold.
6. Ask for Older Medications:
It isn't just generic medications that are cheaper, you can also ask for older versions of the same medications.
Doctors often prescribe the newest, most updated version of a drug. While advancements are made all the time, in some cases, the older version of the drug is just as effective. In addition, the newer drugs almost always come with a higher price tag.
Talk to your doctor and see if an older version is available. It isn't always viable to switch to an older version--sometimes they may have been recalled, they may be less effective, or there could be additional side effects. But if it's safe to do so, switching to an older version of the drug could save you a lot of cash.
7. Try a Discount Card:
In the same way that you can find rewards cards to save money on your groceries, you can also find discount cards for pharmacies as well.
Companies like GoodRX have an arrangement with participating pharmacies. You can get a cheaper price, while the pharmacy gets a cut of the profit.
Some of these discount websites and apps will even show you the price options for participating pharmacies in your area. Then you can compare the prices and pick out the one that gives you the best deal.
How to Save on Drugs Prescribed By Your Doctor:
With the cost of medications on the rise in the U.S., it might feel impossible to buy the prescription medications that you urgently need. But doctors and pharmacies won't always tell you upfront about your options.
If you use the right tips and techniques, you can save on drugs prescribed by your doctor. Then you can find the deals that will get you what you need without breaking the bank.
Looking for more tips, tricks, and resources for keeping yourself healthy? Check out our health and fitness section for more articles!