Who doesn’t want to save money on their prescription drugs? Consumers in the US spend more on their
prescriptions than people in other countries. We know this; many of us know it all too well. What can we do about it?
Here are ten simple things we can do when filling our necessary prescriptions:
1. Go over the list of prescriptions with your primary care Dr. For example; my 93-year-old mother has reduced her number of prescription from eight to four per day. She was taking duplicate medicines, or medicines that really did not even work for her, but she kept taking them. Now, her list of prescriptions is more refined thus saving us money.
2. Ask your Dr. for generic versions of drugs instead of name brand. Talk with your Dr. about your finances. Many doctors have no idea what prescriptions cost and want to help you! Formularies are online so you and your Dr. can look at your plan’s formulary (list of prescriptions) to see what is covered or not.
3. Ask if your Dr. can give you samples of a new prescription. I have a client whose Dr. gave him enough samples to last 8 months, and then they decided it was not producing the desired effect so they discontinued it.
4. Enlist your local pharmacist and talk with them. Pharmacists are extremely knowledgeable; please consider them as part of your care team. Ask if you are taking the best version of your prescription; is there a generic available? Also, ask how your various prescriptions are interacting with each other.
5. Get a paper script (vs digital) and shop around. I know this is a hassle but the results can be worthwhile. Every pharmacy charges a different price for the same prescription. Use the website or app called GoodRx to find the best price for your various prescriptions. Sometimes using mail order is the best price, you might learn how to do that with your insurance plan.
6. For expensive, name brand name drugs, consider using online pharmacies. More and more people are doing this and are getting great prices for their prescriptions! I use pharmacychecker.com.
m with my clients. For example, using GoodRx, the expensive asthma inhaler Symbicort costs $376.00 for 2 months. We looked on PharmacyChecker.com and my client bought the exact same name brand prescription for less than $80.00 per month! She gets it from New Zealand and it only takes 2 weeks to arrive. One caveat: do look at dosages and amounts when comparing prescriptions online. Make sure you are getting what your doctor prescribed.
7. Ask your pharmacist if the actual cash price for the prescription is lower than your price with insurance. Pharmacists may be reluctant to tell you straight out if this is the case; always ask. You might be surprised.
8. Think numbers: Many larger big box stores have bigger buying power and pass the savings along to you. Get a 90-day supply of regular medications.
9. Apply for assistance through your state or insurance plan. Often
people with low income can get assistance and a low-income subsidy (LIS). Ask if you qualify. You will have to show evidence and documentation.
10. Finally, speak with your independent agent about your insurance. Are you on the best plan for you? Our needs change, thus our insurance needs change. Insurance plans change every year too. Speak with an independent agent and learn more about a variety of plans so you can make a wise decision.
Shopping around for our prescriptions can take some energy but is well worth the investment in time when we save significant amounts of money. In today’s’ expensive world, especially for those of us on fixed incomes, every little bit of money saved is a good thing.
Hilary Greenebaum, PhD
Howard Insurance for Seniors