Let’s face it. Talking about health care coverage for your prescription medications isn’t at the top of everyone’s priority list. Sometimes even just facing up to your prescription costs can feel hopeless.
Even if you do have coverage, the cost of medication in the U.S. is only going up year after year. The top 20 most commonly prescribed drugs have skyrocketed up to 10 times the rate—even when adjusted for inflation.
With or without health insurance, there are always ways to beat the system and find great deals on all the prescription drugs you need. Here are six ways you can save money on your medications.
In most cases, you’d expect that the price at the cash register is the minimum price you’d need to pay. But next time you go to the pharmacy, try asking for the cash price instead. You might just be surprised by the discount you could get.
The difference in insurance cost vs the cash price comes down to the type of insurance you have. If the price of your insurance’s copay is more than the cost of the medication, you could be paying more without even knowing it. You'll never know unless you ask.
Whenever possible, always ask for a generic brand to save money. Generic drugs and brand-name drugs have the same active ingredients—which means they’re the same strength, type, and dose. Most importantly, they meet the same quality control standards.
The price drop between generic and brand-name can differ depending on the drug, but in many cases, the savings can be significant. Here are some examples of approximate savings you could receive: • Prozac costs $280, but the generic sells for $30 (90% savings) • Zantac costs $174, but the generic sells for $10 (93% savings) • Zestril costs $96, but the generic sells for $30 (58% savings)
Getting a larger dose and then splitting the medication in half can sometimes save you a chunk of the cost. For example, sometimes you can get 10-milligram pills that can be split into 5-milligram pills. If the larger dosage is less than double the cost of the regular dose, then you’ll be saving a significant amount of money. Savings usually ranges from 30 to 50%.
Just keep in mind that this can’t be done with all types of medications. Some capsules or tablets are enteric-coated or release medication over time. Types of pills that can be easily split include Ambien, Viagra, Lipitor, Zoloft, Luvox, Paxil, and Zyprexa.
In some cases, participating providers will accept discount cards to cut the price of your medications.
Companies like GoodRX have an agreement with certain pharmacies and providers—so you’ll get a discount on your medications while they get a cut of the transaction. Look around for a discount card to help you cut some of the cost of your prescriptions.
Some of these discount providers also offer apps to help you find the biggest savings in your area. You can then compare prices and pick the pharmacy and discount card that give you the best deal.
If you’re having trouble affording your prescription medications, there are assistance programs that can help. Programs through local and state government, non-profit groups, and companies can offer you assistance getting the drugs you need—provided you meet their income requirements. Look for state assistance programs, Medicare, or other non-profit organizations like Needy Meds to get you the help you need.
Whether you already have coverage or not, finding the perfect health insurance plan for you can help you save money in the long-run on your prescription drugs.
Depending on your medication needs, different insurance plans can offer you greater savings. Do some research on your particular co-pay and consider changing plans if this one isn’t working for your needs and preferences.
Prescription medications can cause a lot of stress—and they can ruin your budget if you’re not careful. But you don’t have to accept the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. With these insider tips and tricks, you can negotiate your way towards a cheaper bill at the end of the day.
And if the cost of prescription medications is still too high, there are insurance providers out there that can meet your needs (and your budget).
Are you ready to make the switch? Let us help you find the health insurance plan that's right for you.