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June 2016
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Tips: How to Save On Your Prescription Drugs

As the prices for prescription drugs have skyrocketed in recent years, an increasing number of Americans have taken steps to save on what they pay for their prescription drugs in alarming and potentially dangerous ways, such as not filling prescriptions, skipping dosages, splitting pills without physician advice, and even sharing prescriptions with a friend.

Before you resort to one of these potentially risky tactics to save on your prescription drugs, consider these basic tips which can help your budget and possibly save your life:

Show your Formulary to your Doctor. The formulary is the list of prescription drugs covered by your health insurance and the copays required by the different prescription drugs. Prescription drug formularies vary from plan to plan, so show your doctor your formulary when they prescribe you prescription drugs so they can consider the costs of different prescription drugs as they prescribe. (You should be able to get a copy of your prescription drug formulary from the health plan’s website – this will likely be more up to date than the prescription drug formulary you received in your initial plan documents).

Buy Generic Prescription Drugs. Ask your doctor whether there is a generic prescription drug or less-expensive equivalent which may be available. Generic prescription drugs are the legal copies of brand-name prescription drugs whose patents have expired, and are virtually always a small fraction of the price of the original brand-name drug. (The generic drug manufacturer can charge a much lower price because it didn’t have to invest in the research & development and marketing).

If a generic prescription drug is available, check your local superstore to see if they carry it. A number of superstores have started carrying some generic prescription drugs at very low prices. (Target and Wal-Mart offer a 30-day supply of generics for $4 or a 90-day supply for $10; Costco charges $10 for 100 pills for most generics; and Kmart charges $10 or $15 for 90 days’ worth.) If you do buy generic prescription drugs, remember to check the generic prescription drug co-pay against the drug’s retail price. In some cases, the generic prescription drug co-pay may actually be higher than the drug’s retail price.

It is important to note that not every generic prescription drug may be offered at these low prices. Some generic prescription drugs can cost as much as $40 – $45 dollars for a 30-day supply.

Shop Around for Your Prescription Drugs. Prescription drug prices can vary widely, even within the same geographic area. If you have a prescription drug plan, your prescription drug co-pay should stay the same regardless of the pharmacy. However, it you are paying cash for your prescription drugs, there can be big price differences even among same chain drug stores within a few miles. The cost of your prescription drugs may vary by anywhere from 15% to as much as 100%. If you have a chronic condition, online or mail order sources for prescription drugs are usually much cheaper than neighborhood pharmacies.

Tell your Physician if You Can’t Afford a Prescription Drug. Absolutely tell your physician if you cannot afford a drug they are prescribing. He or she may know of lower-cost treatment alternatives that may be available. If lower-cost alternatives are not available, your physician can at least make you aware of the risks of discontinuing treatment. Even if you cannot afford your full prescription drug regimen, your doctor may still advise you that there may still be one or two low-cost prescription drugs important to your treatment. Many pharmaceutical companies also offer patients certain medications at reduced prices or free. Be sure to look into that option as well if you are having difficulty paying for your medications. Information can usually be found on the manufacturer’s website.

Ask your Pharmacist if you can Split your Prescription Pills. In some cases, a stronger pill may be available for the same prescription drug co-pay. If so, ask your pharmacist if the pill is suitable for splitting. Not all prescription drugs are suitable for splitting, but if yours are, you may be able to split the pills in half and save half the prescription drug co-pay. Again, you should ask your pharmacist before you start pill-splitting. If you are able to split your pills, invest in a pill-splitter so you get an accurate split of your prescription drugs.

Stock Up on Your Prescription Drugs. If you have a chronic condition, buying larger quantities of your prescription drugs (such as a three-month supply instead of a one–month supply) is almost always cheaper.

See if a Coupon is Available for your Prescription Drug. Some pharmaceutical companies offer coupons for the prescription drugs they market. The dollar amounts and terms and conditions of prescription drug coupons vary, but some can be quite substantial. is a good resource on what prescription drug coupons may be currently available.

Do you have a tip on saving on your prescription drugs? Tell us about it in our discussion forum!

Related posts:

  1. Tips: How to Save On Your Prescription Drugs
  2. Elvis the Cat: You Can Save Money With Generic Prescription Drugs For Your Pet, Too!
  3. Using $4 Generic Prescription Drugs Could Save Americans Almost $6 Billion Dollars
  4. New San Diego Prescription Discount Card Can Save Up to 65% on Brand Name and Generic Drugs
  5. Free Discount Card Can Save Up to 75% on Prescription Drugs in Illinois

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