5 Ways to Save Money on Your Meds
Get tips on how to save money on prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
When it comes to paying for your prescriptions, it helps to be thrifty.
Every year, Americans spend more than $200 billion on over-the-counter and prescription medications. You may not realize it, but the meds you take could be eroding your budget, too. But you don’t necessarily have to dip into your life savings just to pay for your prescriptions. Here are five ways you may be able to save at the drug store.
1. Ask for samples. Pharmaceutical sales reps give out millions of dollars worth of sample packets to doctors each year. They’re hoping your doctor will pass them along to you. That’s why you should always ask. Sometimes your physician may be able to send you home with a month’s supply or more. If your illness is temporary, you might be able to get all you need right there. If not, even a few days’ worth of meds can still be a substantial savings.
2. Compare prices. Some pharmacies are less expensive than others. For instance, you might be able to find a mail-order supplier who can send you bulk shipments at a reduced cost. Check prices at grocery store pharmacies or wholesale clubs, too. Ask around. Do some comparative shopping and see where you can get the best deals.
But always use caution when you buy 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.
3. Ask for the generic version. In many cases, your medicine may have a more affordable generic equivalent. Sometimes your pharmacist will tell you if one exists, but not always. If not, be sure to ask. Your checkbook will thank you.
4. 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.
5. Make lifestyle changes to get off meds
Ask your doctor if there is anything you can do to get off your meds or at least, reduce the amount you have to take. You may just be one of thousands of people who could benefit from a few simple lifestyle changes, such as:
- Losing weight
- Exercising more
- Cutting out tobacco
Look for help
You may also be able to get discounts on your prescription drugs. Many drug companies and some states offer needs-based assistance programs.
Talk to your doctor. If your drug costs are a burden, say so. He or she might be able to prescribe 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.
The one thing you should never do, though, is skimp on your medicine just to save money. Yes, financial responsibility is important. But it should never come at the expense of your health.