When you take as many medications as I do, you realize how fast the cost of the prescriptions can add up. Over the years as my health has continued to decline, due to Rheumatoid Arthritis and other associated health issues, my medication costs have increased. And since we're on a tight budget in our household, I've had to find ways to make our money go further and reduce costs in any way I can. So today I thought I'd share a few of my tips and tricks for saving money on prescriptions with you.
1. Use Your Health Insurance Mail Order Program
Almost all insurance companies have a mail order program available to their members. By using their services, you can save anywhere from 15 - 33 percent on your total cost for a 90 day supply of medication. Many programs allow you to fill a 30 day supply locally, so you can start on it right away, and then mail in a 90 day prescription. Just ask your doctor to write two prescriptions for you, one for 30 days and one for 90 days. Many mail order pharmacies allow you to order refills online and offer free shipping, making it convenient to use. The only downside is that they rarely let you use coupons or co-pay assistance cards with you orders.
2. Look for Coupons, Free Trials and Co-Pay Assistance cards for Brand Name Medications
If your doctor prescribes a brand name medication and there are no alternatives, the first thing you should do is go to the website for that particular medication. Many sites offer you savings which include free trial coupons (usually good for 7 - 30 days). These coupons can save you money on each prescription or co-pay assistance cards which pay for a portion of your normal co-pay, thereby reducing your overall cost. These savings can sometimes save you MORE than using mail order, so it's a good idea to compare your local pharmacy cost per month using the savings card against your 90 day prescription by mail order costs. Be sure to read all the coupon/offer details carefully so there are no surprises at the pharmacy counter. One downside to these special offers is that they are often invalid/void if you have Medicaid or Medicare. Brad has some additional tips for saving money on medications if you're on Medicaid or Medicare.
3. Ask Your Doctor About Generic Alternatives
Generic medications are always cheaper than brand name medications, so it's worth talking to your doctor to see if there is a generic alternative to any medications you are taking. Many pharmacies now have special lists of generic medications that you can get for a low cost. For example, Wal-Mart and Target both have a list of generics that they sell for $4 per month or $10 for a 90 day supply. They also offer mail order and free shipping. Be careful to compare the dosages and quantities you're prescribed to the list at the pharmacy. Sometimes they only cover certain quantities or strengths. Bring the list to your next appointment with your doctor to make sure you get the right medication in the right strength. You can also ask the pharmacist to confirm your cost before filling.