It seems that every time you get your prescription filled, the price creeps up. Even if you have insurance, you’re probably spending more these days to get your medicine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t save money on prescriptions or find cheap prescription drugs — even if you don’t have insurance coverage.
A study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predicts that the cost of medicines will increase by more than 6% per year through 2025. If you’re on a budget, any increase to the cost of your medications can be a burden. And sadly, many Americans are being forced to choose between buying prescription drugs and paying for food and a roof over their heads.
It shouldn’t be that way. And fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. By using a few money-saving tips, you can save on the drugs you need. Here are a few easy ways to pay less for prescription medications.
1. SAVE MONEY ON PRESCRIPTIONS WITH GENERIC DRUGS
Many medications have a less expensive, generic alternative. Generic medicines sell for as much as 80% less than their name-brand counterparts.
Some people think generic means lower quality. But generic medications must meet the same stringent FDA requirements as brand name drugs. They are as effective as the more expensive ones. Ask your pharmacist if there is a generic medication you can use – and of course, run it by your health care provider before you make the switch.
2. GET A 90-DAY SUPPLY OF THE PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION
If you take a prescription drug regularly, you probably refill it once a month. But if you get a 90-day prescription for maintenance medications, at a mail order pharmacy or retail store, you may pay less in the long run. Walmart, for example, has extended its $4 prescription program to include 90-day supplies of select maintenance medications for $10.
Not only does this keep more money in your pocket, but you don’t have to make as many visits to your local pharmacy to get your medications refilled.
3. SIGN UP FOR A PRESCRIPTION DISCOUNT CARD
If you’re over 50, you may be taking advantage of AARP perks, including prescription medication discounts. While you have to pay to join AARP, you can get free discount cards from other sources.
One program that offers a free prescription discount card is GoodRx. A simple online search for the medication you need will reveal prices at pharmacies close to you, at a savings of up to 80%. Sometimes, insured patients will pay even less with the app than if they used their insurance card.
Another free prescription discount program is the FamilyWize card. It offers an average savings of about 40% per prescription. The card is available to people nationwide, whether they have health insurance or not.
4. VISIT THE DRUGMAKER’S WEBSITE
Sometimes drug manufacturers put savings offers on their websites. Just search for the drug you need.
And certain pharmaceutical companies even offer patient assistance programs. If your family makes less than a certain amount of money annually, you may qualify for reduced-cost medications.
5. CONSIDER A DIFFERENT STORE
Before you take your prescription to your local pharmacy, comparison shop at a site such as GoodRx, which will show you costs at various stores.
6. PAY WITH CASH
Believe it or not, your insurance may not give you the best price. Sometimes cash customers pay a lower rate than those who use their insurance. Ask your pharmacist about the price difference for cash versus paying with insurance.
7. USE A STORE DISCOUNT PROGRAM
People who work at drugstores know medicines can be expensive. So it pays to check with your pharmacist about programs and services that may be available to lower your costs.
For example, Walgreens offers a Prescription Savings Club you can join for free. You’ll receive instant discounts on more than 8,000 medications.
CVS Caremark offers a Reduced Rx prescription savings program on select medications.
The largest pharmacies also offer programs that let you accrue points on things you buy, and those points are converted into savings.
- CVS offers Extra Care Rewards.
- Walgreens has Balance Rewards.
- Rite Aid offers a Wellness Rewards Program.
While you can’t save on your prescription medications at the cash register by using points, you can save on other things you need, such as toothpaste and shampoo. That can free up money to cover your expensive meds.
8. TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT THE HIGH COST OF YOUR MEDICINE
Sadly, with the rising cost of prescriptions, many people are opting not to fill them. They simply can’t afford it. If you’re in this situation, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she might be able to prescribe a more-affordable alternative or even give you samples.
In addition, you may find that while you had to take two medications before, you can now take one. It’s important to tell your doctor about every medication you take. Not only does that ensure that you aren’t prescribed something that conflicts with your current medication, but your doctor can make sure you’re not taking something you no longer need.