Getting Help With Prescription Costs: 4 Places to Start Looking
Try these cost-saving strategies to get the medication you need at the lowest prices.
Prescription medicines can be a major expense. This is especially true for people with conditions that require long-term treatment. But there are a number of ways to cut the costs. Using these strategies could shave a hefty amount off your drug bills.
Shop and compare
When it comes to medicine, it pays to shop around. Prices can vary greatly from one pharmacy to the next. When checking prices, make sure you compare the same dosage and quantity.
If you find your medicine for less somewhere else, show the price to your local pharmacy. They might be able to match the price.
Buying medicines online can be a cost-cutting option. Many online drugstores offer medicines at low prices. But again, shop and compare. Online drugstores are not always cheaper than retail pharmacies.
Use caution when purchasing medicines online. To be safe, buy only from pharmacies in the United States that are state-licensed. Look for sites that have the VIPPS seal from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
One proven way to save money is to buy generic drugs. You can get generics of many popular brand-name drugs, often at half price or less.
Drug companies can make generics of a brand-name drug once the original patent has expired. The generic version may not be the same color or shape, but it has the same active ingredients and it is made to the same standards.
Ask about older drugs
Sometimes the latest medicine is clearly the best choice. A new drug may have properties that earlier drugs didn’t have. Spending more up front may actually reduce your costs by helping you get better faster and avoid a relapse.
But new doesn’t always mean better. For example, some older blood pressure drugs may work just as well as newer ones and at a fraction of the cost. Talk to your doctor about your options.
Look into pill splitting
Pill splitting can cut the cost of some medicines. (It won’t work with all medications, such as time-release pills or capsules.) Often a higher-dose pill costs almost the same as a lower-dose one. For example, if you take a 25 mg pill, you may be able to buy a 50 mg dose instead and cut the pill in half. You could get the dose you need for about half the price.
Your doctor or pharmacist would know if pill splitting is an option for you. If so, there are safe, inexpensive tools you can use to cut the pills evenly in half. Your pharmacist may be able to cut them for you if you have trouble doing it.
Look for help
You may be able to get discounts on your prescription drugs.
- Many drug companies offer discounts to some low- and middle-income seniors and others.
- Over half the states have prescription drug assistance programs to help seniors and those who are disabled or uninsured.
- Some groups offer member discounts. For example, AARP has a prescription drug program that can save members as much as 50 percent on some drugs.
Talk to your doctor
If your drug costs are a burden, tell your doctor. He or she might be able to prescribe an older medicine or one that can be split or bought as a generic. You might be able to take a cheaper over-the-counter medicine instead of a prescription one. Your doctor’s office may also be able to help you find a prescription assistance program.