It’s no secret that the cost of prescription drugs in the United States has risen dramatically over the last few years. They rose by 12 percent just in the year 2017 (and wages only rose by two percent).
These rising prices affect everyone, but especially vulnerable individuals like senior citizens who rely on more prescription medications than others.
If you’re struggling to deal with rising prices and need help making ends meet, these tips are for you.
Read on to learn about eight tricks you can utilize to save money on RX pharmacy meds.
1. Talk to Your Doctor
One of the first steps you should take when trying to save money on prescription drugs is to talk to your doctor.
It can be hard to acknowledge the fact that you’re short on funds, and many people are embarrassed to do this. There’s no shame in needing help, though, especially when drug costs keep increasing.
There are a couple of ways your doctor can help make your prescriptions more affordable.
First, they can give you free samples to help tide you over while you get the money together for your prescriptions. Most doctors have more samples on hand than they know what to do with. Don’t be afraid to ask for a few.
Second, they can give you coupons to offset the cost of your prescription. Many doctors receive coupons from drug manufacturers but forget to give them out. Ask and see if your doctor has any on hand that you can use.
2. Compare Pharmacies
The cost of drugs varies from pharmacy to pharmacy. Research shows that the lowest prices are usually at independent pharmacies. Drugs are also less expensive when you purchase them in lower-income areas or use online coupons.
In order to figure out the most affordable pharmacy near you, be sure to check out online pharmacy reviews before filling your prescription. There are lots of websites that make it easy for you to compare prices at local pharmacies and online.
You might have to go out of your way a bit to get a good deal, but the extra travel time might be worth it if it helps you save money on your medications.
3. Reach Out to the Manufacturer
Many drug companies have patient assistance programs in place. These programs make their medications more affordable.
In some cases, these programs are need-based. But, many times, you can enroll in the program simply by asking. Reach out to the manufacturer of your medication or search online to see if they offer such a program.
If you feel awkward asking about assistance programs, remember that these companies deal with thousands of people every day. You’re not the first person to ask about assistance, and you won’t be the last.
4. Consider Paying Cash
This comes as a surprise to many people, but your health insurance might not actually save you money on your prescriptions.
Sometimes, it’s cheaper to pay cash. In fact, one study found that patients overpay for prescription drugs 23 percent of the time. There’s even a name for this situation: clawbacks.
Clawbacks occur when your insurance copayment is more than the cost of the drug to your insurer.
Let’s say you have a $20 copay. You’ll probably assume that the drug costs more than $20 and that your insurance company is covering the balance. In some cases, your assumption is incorrect.
What actually happens is the pharmacy collects that $20 and sends it to your insurance company. Then, they get paid the actual cost of the drug.
In some states, clawbacks are illegal. But, many people fall victim to them without even realizing it.
Ask for the cash price of your prescriptions before you pay for them — you might find that it’s cheaper to avoid using your insurance benefits.
5. Ask for the Generic Version
Another way to save money on prescription drugs is to ask for the generic version instead of the brand-name. The generic version uses the same active ingredients, but it’s often much cheaper.
When you’re getting your prescription from the doctor, be sure to ask if a generic version is available. If it’s not, try asking if there’s a similar drug you can take that does come with a generic alternative.
6. Opt for a Larger Dose
If your medication can be divided with a pill cutter, try asking your doctor if you can get a double dose of it. For example, if you get 10-milligram pills instead of 5-milligram pills, you can split each pill in two and get two doses out of it.
Not all pills can be split, so it’s important to ask your doctor if this is an option before you decide to go with a larger dose. Capsules, enteric-coated tablets, and slow-releasing medications cannot be split.
7. Or, Pay for a Larger Supply
You save money by buying food and toiletries in bulk. Why not do the same with your prescriptions?
If you get a 90-day supply of your medication, then you only have to pay an insurance copay once every three months instead of every month (this is assuming, of course, that your medicine is cheaper when you use your insurance benefits).
It can be worth it to ask your doctor to write a prescription for a larger supply of medication, especially when it’s a medication that you take long-term.
8. Update Your Medicare Plan
Finally, you may need to update your Medicare plan. Plans change each year, and these changes extend to the medications covered and copay and deductible amounts.
If you’re able to switch plans during the annual enrollment period, be sure to review each plan online and see if there’s one that fits your needs better.
It can be frustrating and time-consuming to read through every plan, but it’s worth it if it saves you money in the long-run.
Looking for More Ways to Save on RX Pharmacy Meds?
There are lots of things you can do to save money on RX pharmacy meds. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll find that your prescriptions become a lot more affordable.
Want to learn more about how you can save money on prescription drugs? We’ve got lots of tips and tricks for you in the finance and money section of our blog.
Start by checking out this article on paying for prescriptions without insurance.