BE Savvy

3 Ways to Lower Your Medication Costs

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Prescription drug prices are rising as consumer patience and salaries are wearing thin. While Congress has examined the rising cost of medicine, there appears precious little that can be done to halt the troubling but steady trend: pharmaceutical companies purchasing already-available drugs and selling them for much higher prices. For every Martin Shkreli, there are infamous, unnamed pharmaceutical baddies who aren’t dominating headlines.

According to a recent report by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, a global information and technology services company, consumers spent $373.9 billion on medication in 2014, a new record high. But even if your monthly medication payment isn’t half your mortgage, there are steps you can take to keep your medication costs down. As many physicians and pharmacist will attest, if you are paying retail price for medications, you are paying too much Try these strategies to help keep your monthly medication payments from doing a number on your bank account.

The No-brainer Method
If there’s a generic version of a big brand-name medication, the generic is almost always going to be cheaper, and it will be as effective as the familiar name you’re always hearing advertised. Make sure you are being prescribed the generic form of the medication. Don’t assume the price your pharmacy is offering is the same elsewhere. Shop around for drug costs at different pharmacies. That’s because pharmacies routinely charge different prices for the same products. To help you compare prices of your medicine at local pharmacies, visit GoodRx.com. You may also be able to find coupons for the medications you need.

The Slightly Harder Approach
For so many us accustomed to doing things the traditional way, change is hard. In fact, some insurance companies insist that patients use a mail-order pharmacy, to keep prices low. Some may even recommend a specific one to use. These days, there are a number of good reasons to try getting your medication through a mail-order pharmacy. The ease, efficiency, and expeditiousness of online pharmacies is steadily gaining popularity.

HealthWarehouse.com and Express-Scripts.com, two of the nation’s largest online brands are among the most trusted and touted as legitimate, low-cost solutions to rising prescription costs. But before you proceed with your order, make sure the online pharmacy has a VIPPS seal on the website, which stands for Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites. If the site doesn’t have that seal somewhere, you’re looking at a major red flag. Walk away.

The website must ask for your doctor’s prescription. Make sure there is a pharmacist on call who can answer questions. If you do use a mail-order service, tell your doctor so the prescription can be written for a 90-day supply, which is often cheaper. With home delivery, many patients can save up to 33% on their co-pay costs.

The “Throw Everything at the Wall and See What Sticks” Strategy.
If you’re underinsured or have no coverage, ask your doctor for samples and manufacturer discount cards. If not, ask your pharmacist about any prescription-discount programs or cards to run your medications through. Pharmaceutical representatives often give doctors thousands of dollars’ worth of samples for their patients, and they keep them all in a closet in the back room, so be sure to ask. If they don’t have any on hand, ask if they can get you some next time the representative comes in. If you don’t ask for them, your doctors won’t necessarily think to offer them.

Check out NeedyMeds.org, which has a massive database on medications, and all of the different options for getting them at low cost or free. Some of the higher-priced medications that low-income clients cannot afford can be obtained at a much reduced cost.
The ball is entirely in your court for obtaining a second opinion on medication pricing. Always ask around for a second price. For more information on low cost medication, visit WeRX.org and LowestMed.com.