According to the New York Times, you may be able to lower the amount you are spending on prescription drugs, including the drugs you take to treat your thyroid condition.
Here are some steps to take to reduce your prescription drug bills.
1. Ask your doctor about the prescription
When you are prescribed a medication, ask your doctor if it is a generic or brand-name medication. If it’s a brand-name, ask the physician whether a lower-cost generic version is available, and whether the generic would be as effective.
2. Check the cost ahead of time
Before you go to get a prescription filled, contact your insurer to find out what the co-payment cost for the medication will be. You should be able to search online to determine the amount you will owe for the medication.
3. Compare costs
Use a service like GoodRx to compare cash, coupon, and discounted prices of brand-name and generic drugs at your local pharmacies.
BlinkHealth lets you preorder a prescription at a negotiated discounted price, and then pick it up locally at one of 40,000 network pharmacies. You do not need medical insurance to use this free service.
4. Check for coupons, freebies, discounts, and savings opportunities
The website NeedyMeds has a helpful database. Enter the drug name, and you get a list of savings opportunities, including patient assistance programs, coupons, and stores and pharmacies offering $4 generic prescriptions in your area.
The Partnership for Prescription Assistance has a similar database. After you enter the drug name, you are matched with savings opportunities from 475 public and private programs.
Some drugstore chains have savings programs that offer you prescription discounts after joining. For example, you can get a number of discounts and coupons through the Rite-Aid Savings Club.
While thyroid drugs are typically not covered, you may be able to save on other prescriptions at some grocery stores, including Publix and Meijer, which offer certain medications at no cost. Publix, for example, offers a number of free medications to treat infections, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
5. Consider a generic
Walmart and Costco offer $4 costs for a monthly supply of a number of generic drugs, including some thyroid medications.
Contact the pharmacies to confirm availability of your medication and for more information.
Note that a $4 cost is usually much less than your insurance copay for the same generic drug. Generic drugs are also almost always less expensive than brand-names at pharmacies, whether you are paying a copay amount, or the full out-of-pocket retail price.
A caution about generic levothyroxine
Most practitioners do not have concerns about use of generic liothyronine, PTU, and methimazole. There are, however, concerns about generic levothyroxine.
Every time you get a refill of generic levothyroxine, you can receive a batch made by a different manufacturer. This means that you can have significant variations in the drug’s potency. This can lead to undermedication or overmedication. This is particularly concerning for thyroid cancer survivors, who are keeping their thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level suppressed to prevent cancer recurrence.
If you require TSH suppression, or have fluctuations in test levels and symptoms on generic levothyroxine, your healthcare provider may recommend avoiding a generic, and taking a brand name levothyroxine. Brand name levothyroxine typically has consistent potency with each refill.
6. Explore the brand-name thyroid drug savings programs
Many drug manufacturers have coupons, discounts, and patient-assistance programs to help defray the cost of your brand-name thyroid medication. It’s smart to check out these programs before filling your prescription, in case you are eligible for coupons, discounts, or assistance.
Thyroid drug manufacturer programs include:
You may also want to read more about discount drug programs in the Consumer Reports article: “6 Tips for Finding the Best Prescription Drug Prices” and Forbes’ “7 Tips for Saving Money on Prescription Drugs.”
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Mary Shomon is a thyroid disease, hormonal and autoimmune health writer, and patient advocate. For two decades, Mary has been a leading force advocating for more effective, patient-centered thyroid and hormonal health care. Mary is the New York Times bestselling author of “The Thyroid Diet Revolution,” “Your Healthy Pregnancy with Thyroid Disease,” “Living Well With Hypothyroidism,” and 10 other books on thyroid disease and integrative health. She co-stars in two PBS health specials, “Healthy Hormones,” and “Vibrant for Life.” Follow her on Twitter at @thyroidmary or at her Facebook communities: ThyroidSupport and ThyroidDiet.