Are You Paying Too Much for Your Meds? How to Reduce the Cost of Prescription Drugs

white pills and a bottle

Prescription drug prices are on the rise with no sign of coming down.

Americans spend thousands of dollars every year on drugs that are necessary for their health and quality of life. But that doesn't keep drug companies from allowing prescription prices to soar.

Over the past few years, talks of Universal Healthcare and changes to Medicare and Medicaid have Americans wondering what will happen to their coverage. What will the cost of prescription drugs be when changes pass?

Right now, there aren't any definitive answers to these questions or a prediction of what health care is going to look like in the next decade.

But there are some things you can do right now to help lower the cost of your prescription drugs.

Ask Questions

Don't feel like you can't ask questions with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company.

Speaking up about your prescription costs and asking outright what you can do to get them lowered is a great start.

Pharmacists and doctors admit they must adhere to 'Gag Clauses' from insurance or pharmaceutical companies. These clauses are written into contracts that prohibit them from suggesting cheaper alternatives to name brand drugs unless asked by the patient.

Not cool. It is for this reason they suggest you ask specific questions about your medication, if there is a generic version, or if the company who produces it offers coupons or direct assistance.

In some cases, the companies themselves can offer assistance in this way.

Call around to different pharmacies in your area, as well, to compare drug prices. Websites can also do this for you in some regions, view here for an example.

Speak with your doctor about whether or not a drug is needed for extended periods of time or if you can eliminate it entirely. In most cases, doctors are able to reduce your prescription or take away one drug without sacrificing your health.

90-Day Prescriptions

If you do have a prescription that is constant and necessary, try 90-Day Prescriptions.

Certain pharmacies will fill a prescription for a longer duration depending on the type of drug and your insurance. This will reduce the number of co-pays you have to pay out of pocket.

If your insurance doesn't cover a 90-Day Prescription, ask the pharmacist about what it would cost to pay with cash or with coupons offered by the company. In some cases, this is a cheaper alternative to paying with insurance.

No Mail Order Drugs

You might think you're saving money by ordering your medicine through the mail, but it's costing you in the long run. Sometimes hundreds of dollars more a year for convenience.

A handful of insurance policies offer only mail order prescriptions. Try searching for plans that allow for over-the-counter pick-up as well.

Medicare and Medicaid Assistance

Apply for government assistance and know the difference between the two.

Medicare is age-based assistance. In order to sign-up for these plans, you must be 65 years or older. It is also offered to some younger people with disabilities. This is separate from getting disability benefits from the government.

Medicaid, on the other hand, is meant for people of all ages who need public assistance.

You can apply for eligibility in either program or get dual enrollment. Once accepted it is important you compare the plans they offer you.

Check each plan for their premiums, co-pay amounts, doctors they approve, prescription options, and so on. Get a thorough idea of what you are going to have to pay out of pocket and if you can continue seeing the same doctor before you accept.

If you want lower prescription drug prices and are eligible for Medicare, look into Plan D. This is a plan specifically designed to work with a plan you already have to help cover prescription drug costs.

If you are denied for government assistance, don't give up. You have a right to appeal. Though this is a long and stressful process, it can save you thousands of dollars of medical bills and prescription drug costs if you win.

State and Community Assistance Programs

Your very own community, region, and state programs are there to help you.

While you are at your doctor's office, local pharmacy, or government agency check for pamphlets and cards. Resource centers and area hospitals should also be able to direct you to programs in your area.

State programs like SNAP, vary in their coverage options so be sure to do some research into what your state can offer you.

National non-profit programs are available to everyone, regardless of where they live. Here are some of the more common programs:

Established in 2005, this program is built to connect patients with resources offered by pharmaceutical companies or programs that will cover the entire cost of your prescription or lower it.

Program established to assist the low-income seniors or younger people with disabilities. They can help with health care costs and general financial trouble. No one should have to sacrifice prescriptions for food or any other necessities.

Another non-profit, this company offers an app and card that directs you to cheaper prescriptions. They offer discounts and information on specific drugs while also providing resources for treatment and drug disposal.

Pharmacy Discount Cards

You may find the best prescription drug discount card at the pharmacy you are already going to. Chains like Costco, Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, and many others offer them! You are one application away.

Other options come from AARP or insurance companies. You can get the lowest price for your prescription by getting these cards and asking for the generic version.

Lowering the Cost of Your Prescription Drugs

Following these steps will relieve your financial stress. The cost of prescription drugs isn't going down but that doesn't have to bring you down.

Your health and wellness are important and shouldn't be hindered because of your financial situation. Take advantage of these programs and get help when you need it.

For more information on prescription drugs, click here.


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