According to a recent study, economic worries have caused an increase in patients skipping doses, splitting pills or just not filling prescription from the doctor. Job loss, increasing costs and ever changing health care benefits are making it increasingly difficult for patients to follow the doctor’s orders. Since Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a chronic condition, it is likely that treatment will be needed for months or years.
I am very worried about this trend. While there may be short term monetary savings, I wonder if there will be additional health problems from not following the doctor’s GERD treatment plan. Skipping reflux medication doses or not taking the medication at all combined with delaying or skipping follow up appointments will most likely decrease the quality of care. In addition, some reflux medication needs to be taken every day for maximum effectiveness. Decreasing or stopping a reflux medication suddenly can have uncomfortable or dangerous side effects.
While I cannot find you a job or reinstate your insurance policy, here are some ideas for cutting costs without abandoning the treatment plan altogether.
At the Doctors Office
· Ask the doctor to evaluate your entire GERD treatment plan. Bring in all of your medications and decide if each medication is still needed. Ask if any of the medication can be reduced or eliminated. See if a less expensive alternative medication can be tried. For instance, some patients are able to decrease or eliminate a daily PPI and take an acid reducer instead. Ask the doctor if you can take your reflux medication as needed rather than every day.
Doctors often receive samples and coupons from the medication manufacturer. This includes over the counter and prescription medications. I have received coupons for a free one month supply of a prescription medication. Every little bit helps!
At the Pharmacy
· Look for pharmacy coupons in the newspaper. Pharmacy chains and grocery stores often have coupons in their ads. I found a coupon for a $30.00 gift card with every new or transferred prescription. It was a happy day when I redeemed the gift card and saved $30.00 on groceries.
· Shop around and look for the best price. Some of the larger stores (Wal-Mart, Target, and Safeway) have announced deeply discounted prices for a big list of medications, regardless of your insurance co-pay. A few stores are offering a 90 day supply for the price of a 30 day supply. Use the internet to find out the current offers or call the pharmacy directly.
· You may need to skip the local pharmacy and use the mail order option that most insurance companies offer. Contact your insurance company for details. My insurance company provides a 90 day supply for one co-pay. I can order on line, by phone or mail. It does take a bit of planning to get it set up since you need to send in the first prescription. Your doctor will need to write out the prescription indicating that a 90 day supply needs to be dispensed. The mail order option won’t work if you are down to your last two pills so plan accordingly. On the other hand, there is nothing sweeter than opening up the mailbox and seeing the package of medication, knowing that I skipped the line at the pharmacy to get the medication!