Have you ever gone to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and your jaw hit the floor when the cashier tells you the total? As a patient with chronic health problems, I have had prescription sticker shock on more than one occasion. According to Bloomberg, Americans spend roughly $1,100 per person on prescription costs each year. The average amount can quickly skyrocket if you have chronic health problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS, or cancer.
Even if your private health insurance picks up a majority of the tab, the increase in prescription costs is passed back to the consumer through higher deductibles or health insurance premiums the following year. Government insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, who pick up the tab on prescription costs are forced to increase taxes in order to pay for increased prices at the pharmacy.
A few years ago, we were forced to make the switch to a high deductible insurance plan for our family because of the increase premiums through my husband’s employer. We are now responsible for meeting our deductible before our insurance company will pick up the tab. A high deductible plan is great for people who are healthy and don’t get sick very often. However, if you have chronic health problems like I do, our family has to budget for my deductible every year. Without the medication, my rheumatoid arthritis would destroy my joints.
Rising prescription costs is causing many families to choose between buying the medication that they need and feeding their family each month. I’ve been there and it isn’t fun having to rearrange the budget to be able to afford taking care of my families health needs. Today, we wanted to share with you our secrets to lowering your out of pocket expenses on prescription medications.
Most pharmacies will price match another store price on your medication in order to win your business. Don’t be afraid to call several different pharmacies in your area and inquire the cost of your medication before heading to the pharmacy to fill your prescription. It is important that you get a quote based on the information on your script from the doctor. For example, if you are calling to pharmacy x to inquire about Amoxicillin, you need to ask for the price on the exact strength and quantity for an accurate price. You can either fill your prescriptions at your favorite pharmacy if they offer price matching or you can fill your script at the pharmacy with the lowest price.
Ask Your Doctor to Prescribe Generics
Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell your doctor that you prefer to try generic drugs first. Sometimes doctors tend to forget that they work for you and prescribe brand-name drugs because their favorite representative was in to see them a few weeks ago. There is some controversy about doctors and pharmaceutical companies giving doctors a kickback for prescribing their medication over a cheaper medication. I don’t know how much of this is true, but in this case, it doesn’t matter. If your doctor hesitates to fill a generic medication, be honest and upfront with your doctor and tell your doctor that your budget doesn’t allow for costly drug choices.
Sign Up for an RX Savings Card
Even if you have private health insurance, paying your prescription copay isn’t always cheaper. We have found that sometimes it is cheaper to sign up and use an RX saving card, such as Singlecare.
Singlecare is a free savings card that offers services including discounts on your prescriptions at a reduced rate. The savings card can save you up to 80% off prescriptions, including Chantix discount. Savings are based on the medication prescribed and the pharmacy where you are going fill your prescription. This card IS NOT an insurance plan. You can get savings using Singlecare’s RX Savings card at 35,000 pharmacies nationwide including popular pharmacies like Walmart, CVS, and Walgreen’s.
Epipen is a great example of a rapid price increase in a short amount of time. The Epipen went from $265 and soared to over $600 when a generic was expected to arrive. The Epipen caused a huge political uproar and it just goes to show you that drug companies can drive the price of their product even if it hurts people who can’t afford the increased costs.
Check for Money Saving Coupons
As previously mentioned above, generic drugs are the cheapest when they are available but sometimes there isn’t a generic option available. There may be certain instances when there isn’t a generic available. For example, I take Lyrica to manage my fibromyalgia symptoms. Lyrica isn’t available in a generic until the patent expires. Manufacturers sometimes offer patients a co-pay assistance programs to help offset patient costs. The savings can save patients hundreds of dollars and aren’t always advertised. If your doctor prescribes a brand name drug, see if there is a manufacturer coupon or discount card for a specific medication.
Use Reward Programs
Some pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, and Kmart offer their customers rewards for filling their prescription. Reward programs are free to sign up and can be used to save money on other purchases in the store. When you pick up your prescriptions, simply scan or type in your phone number at the register to apply the rewards to each transaction. For example, for every 10 prescriptions filled at CVS, they give you a $5 extra care bucks. You can use the extra care bucks to save on a future prescription or for other items needed in the store. Do pay attention to the expiration date on the extra care bucks. They do have to be used within a certain period of time.
Ask Your Doctor for Samples
If you require a short dose of a medication, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for samples. Drug companies often leave samples with your doctor to give out to patients. What is the worst thing that can happen if you ask your doctor? Your doctor might say “no” but it is possible that he or she could say yes.
With rising healthcare costs, including prescription drug prices, families are continuously looking for ways to save money. Even if you have prescription drug coverage, rising copays are making drug prices out of reach for some people. Drug prices aren’t regulated at this time and even your inexpensive prescriptions could rapidly increase.