Even if you have insurance, there are still ways to reduce your costs.
You know the feeling: your doctor tells you that they want to give you a prescription and your first thought is, “Oh no, how much is this going to cost me?”
Prescription costs continue to rise rapidly, and even with insurance your costs can be steep.
According to studies by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the average American spends $1200 per year on prescriptions with an average out-of-pocket cost of about 14% of the total cost of the drug.
Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to reduce your out-of-pocket costs for medications:
Ask for generics
A generic version of a drug can save you hundreds of dollars. Ask your doctor if you really need the brand name version and if there is a generic equivalent that you could take instead.
Ask for a drug that’s been on the market longer
Older drugs tend to be less expensive and are more likely to have a generic equivalent. Ask your doctor if something that’s been on the market longer would work just as well.
Ask for a 90-day supply
Generally speaking, you can save money by ordering a 3-month supply of medications. Most insurance companies allow this. You will only pay one co-pay instead of three, and there is often a discount for ordering larger numbers.
Ask for your medication to be sent through a mail-order pharmacy
Mail-order pharmacies can ship medications directly to your home, often reducing the costs compared to retail locations. It takes longer to receive your prescriptions, but it might be worth it.
Ask for your prescription to be sent to a big box store
Most of the larger retailers have pharmacies, and they often offer a discount for drugs they buy in bulk. It can be worth it to shop around and see where you can find the best price. Don’t forget to check with any warehouse stores you belong to, like Costco or Sam’s Club.
Ask for samples
Doctors receive a generous supply of samples from drug companies as a way to encourage them to prescribe their product. If you are trying a new medication, ask your doctor to give you a sample pack so you can see if the prescription will work for you before you shell out the money.
Ask about patient assistance plans
Often drug companies or your state will have a medication assistance plan where you can get a vital medication for free or a reduced price. Ask your doctor if there’s a plan they work with, and check with your pharmacy or local health department for other options. You just might qualify for a program that helps.
Ask about higher dosages
With some medications, your doctor might be able to prescribe a higher dose pill that can be split, so instead of taking on 50 mg tablet, for example, they would prescribe the 100 mg tablet and you would take half a tablet per day.
If you’re having problems affording your medications, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about your options. Ask them why they recommend a specific medication and which of your prescriptions are the most important to your overall health. Many medications have bad side effects if you stop them without titrating down, so be sure any decisions you make about your medications are informed by a medical professional, not someone on the internet.