Every American knows that healthcare costs are expensive. Even if you have health insurance or Medicare, it isn’t always easy to find affordable prescription medications. Once you reach your annual spending limit, there is a coverage gap. This leaves patients to pay out of pocket for the medicine they need. And every year, the prices for these medications continue to rise, with nearly 30% of all prescriptions remaining unfilled due to the cost. However, your health shouldn’t suffer because of your insurance plan or finances. So, here are a few tips to help make your healthcare expenses more manageable.
10 Ways to Find Affordable Prescription Medications
Pharmaceuticals can be expensive, but you shouldn’t have to choose between paying your bills and getting the care you need. Here are 10 ways you can find affordable prescription medications to reduce your healthcare costs.
1. Generic Brands
The easiest way to immediately reduce your total bill at the pharmacy is to ask about generic brands. Name-brand pharmaceuticals can come with a steep price tag. However, there is usually a more affordable, generic substitute that is just as safe and effective. Next time you need a refill, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is a lower-cost option for you. Just be aware they may need to write a new prescription. But, it could save you serious cash.
2. Alternative Prescriptions
If there isn’t a generic version of your medication, there may be an alternative that is just as effective. Doctors don’t always know the cost of prescription drugs or which ones are covered by your insurance. But, there may be similar medications that would be covered by your insurance plan. Explain your situation to your doctor, and see if there is an alternative medication they could prescribe instead.
3. Comparison Shop
Despite what people may think, the prices of medication aren’t fixed. Sites like GoodRx are a great starting point. You can check prices at local chain stores like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target, and RiteAid to get an idea of the savings.
Prices can vary between pharmacies as well. And believe it or not, sometimes the over-the-counter cost is even lower than your copay. Therefore, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare the prices of different pharmacies near you. Don’t forget to check smaller, local ones as well. And if you are willing to put in the time, you could save even more by refilling different prescriptions at various pharmacies. It may be time-consuming but could be worth the savings.
4. Online Pharmacies
Shopping online for your medications could net you significant savings. However, if you decide to purchase online, make sure you are using a reputable vendor. Look for sellers that are accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and only deal with drugs that have received FDA approval. Another good sign that it is a legitimate business is when it is connected to a physical pharmacy in the US. But if the prices seem too good to be true, they probably are.
5. Change Your Insurance Plan
Just because you have had the same insurance coverage for years does not mean that you have the best plan for you. Sometimes there are gaps.
Even Medicare offers different levels of coverage, including some that help bridge those gaps in coverage. These plans will help you pay for monthly prescriptions, but they may come with a higher premium. Before you make any changes, check with your provider to see if the medication would be included under a different plan.
6. Help from Your Doctor
If you are struggling to pay even discounted costs, ask your doctor for help. Many pharmaceutical reps visit practices and provide free samples of their medications. Your doctor may be able to provide a few free samples to help you get by. However, this can’t be your prescription plan.
Your doctor may also be able to request additional discounts that you won’t have access to. Or, they may also be willing to write prescriptions in bulk. Some pharmacies offer discounts for larger purchases, so this is one more way you could find affordable prescription medications.
7. Prescription Assistance Programs
Prescription Assistance programs are another option for low-income earners. Some drug manufacturers provide name-brand prescriptions for little or no cost to those who qualify. There are also federal and state assistance programs that help with medication costs for those on Medicare.
The enrollment process can be time-consuming and challenging to navigate. Many people have reported that a single mistake has resulted in the denial of their application. However, you could always hire a medical advocate to act as a liaison through the process. Their fees are usually reasonable and include assistance with pre-qualification, preparing the application, submission, managing refills, and re-enrollment.
8. Retailers with Prescription Assistance
There are also many retailers that offer free or low-cost pharmaceuticals for members who pay annual membership fees. They build brand loyalty by reducing the price of high-volume meds like antibiotics, prenatal vitamins, diabetic medications, and other common prescriptions.
Since you are dealing with national retailers with pharmacies that handle high volumes, they can afford to reduce prices below copay. The slight cost for these medications can be recaptured in profits through other prescriptions you fill through their pharmacy. However, be aware that eligibility and tier-pricing frequently change. So, be certain to check prices from month to month.
9. Apply for Extra Help
The federal government also has a program offered through Medicare and Social Security to offer Extra Help to the lowest income earners. This program helps people with limited incomes get access to resources so they can get the care they need. Namely, it lowers prescription costs. As of 2022, it reduced the cost of generic medications to $3.95 However, this will rise to $4.15 in 2023. And for name-brand, it is $9.85 now but will increase to $10.35 next year.
10. Prioritize Your Health
Although many people find creative ways to make their prescriptions last longer or find cheaper suppliers, you should follow your doctor’s orders and take your medication as recommended. Changing dosage or using unapproved medications could have serious repercussions on your long-term health. And, it could lead to even more healthcare costs. So if your doctor feels that you require certain medications to lead a healthy lifestyle, you need to factor this into your budget.
Although healthcare costs can become overwhelming, especially if you are dealing with a chronic disease or injury, your health shouldn’t suffer because of the expense. There is help out there, so don’t be afraid to explore your options.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.