We’re all anxious to learn new ways to save money, from groceries to pet care products, but some areas are more difficult than others. Here are 12 ways you can save money on prescription medicines, as well as where and how to get some medicines (antibiotics!) for free.
Check into Assistance Programs
: Oftentimes there are government programs, non-profits or other entities that offer deeply discounted or no-cost medicines. We highly recommend visiting the Partnership for Prescription Assistance website. Once there, you can enter either the medicine you take or the company that manufacturers it in the search field by simply clicking on the “Get Help Now” button.
If you are taking medicine for certain conditions and diseases such as Cancer or Diabetes, it’s helpful to utilize Google to search for disease-related associations, such as The American Cancer Society (cancer.org) or the American Diabetes Association (diabetes.org). These associations have a number of resources available and are often able to help you locate less expensive medications.
Free Pills Worth it or Not:
Your doctor may be willing to give you free sample packets of your prescription, but be aware that these “free” samples are generally for the name brand (aka most expensive) version of the prescription. Oftentimes the meds are available in generic form. If you’re doctor is willing to give you these name brand “free samples” for the length of your condition, Great! If not, be sure to ask if you’ll be able to switch to a generic of the same medication type once the “freebies” are gone.
Be Honest with your Doctor
Chances are your doctor knows how (approximately) how much the drug is that he/she is prescribing. Ask them point blank how much it is and be honest and tell them if you are unable to afford it. They may have an alternative treatment or medication that is less expensive.
Split the Drugs
We’re including this one because it’s okay to do in SOME situations. For example, if you regularly take 20 mg of Cholesterol meds, you can put in a request with your doctor to prescribe the 40 mg dose, which you can then split at home. The price is often the same amount for the medication, regardless of the dosage, so you receive twice the amount of medicine for the same price. However, be aware that this is not possible with time-release medicines, capsules, gel caps or controlled narcotics. As always, be upfront with your doctor!
Check with your employer to see if they offer a prescription drug plan. Often these plans are available at deep discounts.
Purchase Long-Term Supply-
Certain medications (such as birth control pills or cholesterol meds) are often available in 90 day supply. They are considerably less expensive to purchase these in bulk but may require mail-order suppliers such as Medco or Express Scripts.
Forget what you saw on TV
Don’t waste your time or the doctors time by pushing him/her to put you on the latest (and no so greatest!) over-advertised medicine on tv. Chances are if you saw it on television, the price is going to be jacked up to cover the large advertising expense!!
Price Comparison– you comparison shop on electronics, groceries, clothes- prescription drugs are no exception. The price of your prescription can vary by as much as several hundred dollars between pharmacies. Be sure to call several different pharmacies to double check before having your prescription filled.
– if you’re eligible, consider joining AARP as their members receive many discounts including mail-order pharmacy discounts through reputable distributors.
– if you live near the border (Mexico or Canada) oftentimes it’s worth the expense in gas to take a day trip and purchase medications for as little as 1/4 of the price.
Drug Discount Cards-
There are numerous drug discount cards available, some have eligibility requirements, some don’t. Some have restrictions based on income or age or whether children are involved. Here are 3 quick questions you should ask yourself when considering any drug card:
- How much is it? How much does it cost to have the card and use the program? Is it free? Is it for multiple use or one time only? Do you have to renew it each year.
- Will it cover the Meds you need? Some folks buy into these programs not realizing that they medications they take aren’t even covered by the plan. Check to be sure that they are!
Will your favorite pharmacy honor it? Sounds basic, it is, be sure that the card you plan to use can be used at the pharmacy where you have your prescriptions filled. If your current pharmacy doesn’t accept the card, Perhaps the savings are so substantial that it’s worth switching to a pharmacy that Does accept the card.
Here is a great site that offers a master list of Drug Discount Card Programs (needymeds.org). In addition, did you know that every state in this country offers at least one program to help people afford their meds?
Big Box Store Programs
Last but certainly not least- many Big Box stores such as Walmart, Kmart, Meijer, Target offer deeply discounted generic medicines for $4 or $10. Some medicines, such as antibiotics or pre-natal vitamins are offered for Free.