How to Save Money on Prescriptions (And Where Not to Cut Corners)

The rising price of prescriptions has been a big topic in the news in the past year. From the “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, who raised the price of a lifesaving drug by 5000%, to the dramatic increase in the price of Epi-Pens, we’ve seen some examples of prescriptions becoming unaffordable.

prescriptionsThough these two headlines are certainly extreme cases, the price of prescriptions has been rising across the board, even for people who have insurance. A recent Washington Post article shows that prescription drug prices went up 10% in 2015 on average. This certainly makes it much harder for people to afford the medications they need.

Check out the rising price of prescriptions in 2015 article here

With the prices of prescriptions increasing, it becomes even more important to find ways to save. The good news is that there a few things we can do to get the most affordable options for our medications. In addition, there are certainly areas in which we should never cut corners, or else put our health at risk. I’ll walk us through a few ways to save and a few things we definitely should never do to save on prescriptions. I’ll even provide an option for the patients I work with at PrairieStar Health Center!

The Do’s and Don’ts to save on prescriptions

I think it’s important to start off with the Don’ts of saving on prescriptions. There’s only a few things you shouldn’t do, but keeping these items in mind will make sure you don’t risk your health for the sake of saving.

Don’ts

  • Skip doses
    • Doses are set up specifically to make the medication most effective. Skipping doses can make you lose the benefit of taking the medication in the first place. Antibiotics for example, will not work if you skip doses and can make your resistant to that medication in the future.
    • WebMD showed that nearly 12% of people have skipped doses of medication to save money. This is a shortsighted corner cutting method that should never be done.
  • Try for “home remedies” or sketchy supplements instead of what your doctor says you need.
    • If you really need a certain medication, don’t opt for a home remedy instead. Your doctor has years of training and experience and will know the best option for you. Home remedies are often no better than a placebo.
    • Plenty of supplement companies promise to cure all kinds of problems, but aren’t actually certified by the FDA or proven to do anything they say they do.

Check out my post, The Truth About Vitamins and Supplements to learn more

With these important “Don’ts” explained, there are actually quite a few things you can do that will save money on prescriptions and not put your health at risk in any way. Let’s take a look at these helpful options.

Do’s

  • Go generic
    • prescriptions-02Most prescriptions have generic alternatives to the big brand names. You can save 60% or more on average by going generic. Lots of insurance plans will have reduced or nonexistent copays for generic drugs as well. There’s really no reason not to go generic since the medication is exactly the same.
  • Shop around
    • Believe it or not, different pharmacies will have different prices on prescriptions. CVS might not be the same as Walgreens, Rite Aid, or another location. There’s also lots of online stores for prescriptions that can have good prices.
    • GoodRx is a great website to help you compare the prices of prescriptions at different retailers. I highly recommend you check it out! http://www.goodrx.com/
  • Ask your doctor about less expensive alternatives
    • Keep your doctor in the loop if you find you’re unable to afford your prescriptions. They might be able to prescribe a different option that’s less expensive.
  • Take advantage of savings programs
    • prescriptions-03Your insurance, your state or your pharmacy probably offers a prescription savings program. The savings vary from program to program but can certainly make a difference in the cost you ultimately pay. Ask about these programs from your pharmacy, your insurance, or see what your state may be able to provide.

 

For Those at PrairieStar Health Center

PrairieStar Health Center, as a Federally Qualified Health Center, has several unique prescription savings programs you may be able to take advantage of. We offer our prescription assistance program in which we assist patients in filling out an application that is submitted to the manufacturer, and if qualified, a patient can receive up to three months of medication for only $12.50.  Income restrictions to apply.

We also have been granted a 340B designation by the government which allows our in-house pharmacy to essentially buy and sell prescriptions at cost without retail markup. The savings are incredible! This program is available to those without prescription insurance or for those whose insurance declines to pay for a prescription. To see if you qualify for either of these programs, stop by the PrairieStar pharmacy.

Check out our savings online plan here

Additional information on ways to save at the pharmacy

You might have to look, but there are ways to save

As I’ve shown you here, prescriptions are getting more expensive, but they are ways to achieve significant savings. I hope you can find these suggestions helpful and will allow you to reduce the cost you pay at the pharmacy counter. If you have more questions on how to save, I’d be happy to see if I can provide advice for your specific situation. Reach out to me here, on social media, through email or give me a call!

Best wishes for a happy, healthy October.

Dr. Johnson