Saying that the US has become a nation of pill-poppers is not straying far from the truth. The CDC reveals startling statistics showing that over 48.7% of American adults use at least one prescription drug. Of course, the situation drastically changes with age, as older US residents may use at least five prescription medications.
Back in 2000, the cost of one year of cancer-drug treatment didn’t exceed $10,000. By 2012, that cost had soared to over $100,000, a Mayo clinic study shows. A 12-week-course of hepatitis C treatment can cost upwards of $84,000. Even generic drugs are becoming increasingly expensive, with a massive price increase for drugs such as doxycycline.
With such massive numbers, one can’t fail but wonder: how is it possible to cope with the often massive prices of prescription drugs? Health insurance covers a portion of the costs, but even so, out-of-pocket expenses may be enough to challenge even the best savers. So here’s your guide to saving money on prescription medication.
Be Smart About Your Purchase
Shopping around isn’t just a concept that can be applied to jeans and jackets. Feel free to call multiple local pharmacies and compare prices. Granted, differences may not exceed several pennies, but even so, everything adds up. More importantly, as compared to large chain stores, neighbourhood pharmacies may even offer discounts and have somewhat of an autonomy when it comes to prices.
Look into Generics
When filling out a prescription, few people know that there are generic options to brand-name drugs. Doctors rarely know if and when a patient has financial troubles. So feel free to ask your friendly pharmacist if there is a generic option available. Brand name drugs may cost four times as much as their generic counterparts, so generics may end up saving you massive amounts of money.
Big Chains May Offer Viable Alternatives
Shopping around works both ways: in certain situations, a large chain may offer great deals, so be sure to check at Wal-Mart and Target whether they’re offering deals on certain medications. Other stores may provide customers with saving plans (regardless of whether you’re insured or not).
Call the Drug Maker Directly if Your Insurer Refuses to Co-pay
Few of us actually notice the tiny print in TV ads saying that certain drug companies are willing to aid you in paying for your medicine. But many patients have benefited greatly from such drug company provided assistance.
Drug makers will require you to provide proof that you really can’t afford the full price and if provided with this documentation, they will often take a percentage off the full price of your medication.
Other times, drug makers may even intervene on your behalf with your insurer.
Lower-dose Pills May Be More Expensive than Higher-dose Ones
In the past, pill splitting was a common practice, seeing that many pills cost virtually the same even when the concentration of active drug differs. So if you should only take 40 mg of a specific substance, look into splitting a 80 mg pill in two or better yet, a 160 mg pill into four. Feel free to talk about your financial limitations with your doctor so that he or she may prescribe twice the dosage.
Yet be mindful of time-released drugs: they cannot be split as their efficacy is dependent on the multiple layers of coating (which you destroy by splitting). Your doctor will guide you as to which pills you can and cannot split.
Ask What the Drug Would Cost Without Insurance
That sounds a bit counterintuitive, agreed, yet at certain points, it may be cheaper to purchase your medication without applying insurance.
Search for Online Coupons
Certain websites offer free coupons or pharmacy discount cards that apply to most FDA approved medication. Such sites are funded, in part, by the pharmaceutical companies themselves. Luckily, there are no denials and you aren’t enrolled in anything: you simply receive the coupon.
Buy in Bulk
If you’re taking prescription medication for certain chronic conditions, it’s pretty clear that you will have to repeatedly have that prescription refilled. So, if in the foreseeable future, you will still have to refill that prescription, order in bulk. Your physician will, of course, have to write a 90-day prescription, but most will be glad to do so, especially if you’re honest and open about the reason. Ordering in bulk may help you save up to hundreds of dollars per year.
Ask for Free Samples
Particularly when starting a new course of treatment, consider asking your doctor about free samples. Many doctors have samples of branded drugs and you can benefit from 10 to 14 days’ worth of medication until you find other solutions.
Mail Order Pharmacy Services
This is a particularly clever solution, however, before doing so, make sure to check out the pharmacy of your choice. Choose reputable pharmacies and attempt to only collaborate with in-country pharmacies.
Take Advantage of Preventive Care
This applies particularly to seniors, though preventive care and screenings are available to the general population. Catching a disease early means that it’s more easily treatable and that you’ll most likely require less medications down the road. So be sure to go in for your yearly check-ups, health screenings and wellness visits (if your insurance includes them).
Check Your Part D Plan
Granted, reviewing your Part D may not be the most pleasurable thing in the world, however, in the long run, it can save you a bundle. Think about the total cost of each drug that you currently take (or may have to take in the future). Then compare plans in accordance to total cost.
Patient Assistance Programs
Pharmaceutical companies often have special programs designed to help patients buy their drugs at deeper discounts. At certain times, they may even offer the medication free of charge. So be sure to surf the drug maker’s website and check whether they have such assistance programs. Another option is to search for the drugs you need on NeedyMeds, where almost 6,000 assistance programs are featured.
There are options so don’t despair. Keep your goal in mind and remember that most pharmaceutical companies wish to help patients get the medication they need.
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