With budgets being tight these days, many people are looking to cut costs wherever they can and since prescription drug costs can add up, this is a good place to look for savings opportunities.
You may have prescription medication coverage through a personal or work insurance policy which helps pay for your medicine, but most do not cover 100% of these costs, and your prescription costs may still accumulate, especially if you are on an ongoing prescription. Many people have no health insurance coverage at all to help them. However, there are ways to save money, whether you pay 100% of the costs, or only 20%, or anything in between.
The easiest way to see if there are any savings opportunities is to talk to your local pharmacist. Pharmacists can review your medications and suggest some options that are specific to your needs. Developing a relationship with your pharmacist enables them to look after you even more over time. They are familiar with generic version options and can act as intermediaries, as well as provide other expert advice. They may have discount programs or other solutions that can help.
Communication is important, so let your pharmacist (as well as your doctor) know you are interested in lower copay drugs and generic alternatives.
Your pharmacist can also help you navigate over-the-counter options. A variety of medications can now be obtained without a prescription. Health insurance might not pay for non-prescription drugs, but these options can be cheaper, especially if you do not have insurance, or if you can pay with a health savings or flexible spending account.
Some chain pharmacies have in-house prescription discounts, usually with a fee, but a small local pharmacy may be able to offer more flexibility.
There is not always a generic version for every drug, but there are usually other alternatives with the same active ingredients and effects as the branded drug that you were prescribed that can be significantly cheaper.
In addition to asking for generic drugs, ask about over-the-counter options, too, as over time, popular drugs become available without a prescription, such as heartburn drugs.
You can also ask your doctor to prescribe a three-month supply, so you are saving money by buying in bulk, or ask for free drug samples.
Research your health insurance copays and tiers, as these can vary quite a bit. Many plans have different copays for a generic drug, tier 1, a preferred drug, tier 2, or other brand name medications, tier 3.
Insurance offers better copay rates for preferred drugs in a drug class because they get these at better rates by negotiating with drug companies. Keep track of these copays, as preferred branded drugs can change.
You can access most insurance companies' drug formularies on their websites. If in doubt, call your insurance company and ask, or again, talk to your pharmacist.
You can also compare prices for your drugs; this may be especially worthwhile if you have no insurance coverage or you have a long-term or expensive prescription.
Prices between pharmacies can vary based on location and volume. Depending on your location, there are websites that allow you to compare costs online.
However, maintaining a relationship with your pharmacy can pay off more in the long run. While another pharmacy may offer a lower price on one of your medications on a given day, having a trusted pharmacist who can help you with an ongoing plan to save you money on medication costs, or who knows you enough to recommend money-saving tips without you even knowing to ask, will save you more.
While you can shop around for the lowest posted price for your exact prescription, your pharmacist may still be able to find you a cheaper solution that is right for you.
The other key reason to stick with a pharmacist is because of drug safety aspects. Medication safety, drug interactions, side effects, allergies, and more are best monitored with a trusted pharmacist partner.
Shopping online pharmacies can offer good deals, but you usually have to buy in bulk. You also do not get the benefit of an in-person pharmacist who knows you and is watching out for your health.
You also need to be very cautious to buy from reputable pharmacies, or you risk getting medications that are wrong, expired, have impurities, or are not of the proper strength. This also applies to both an online pharmacy and a mail-order pharmacy. Do not purchase drugs from foreign countries.
Patient assistance programs like offer free or low-cost medications to people who can`t afford them, or provide copay coupons.
There are websites, such as RXAssist, that show available resources and may offer discount cards.
Many pharmaceutical companies also have assistance programs. Those who are eligible may qualify for discounts directly from drug companies.
To know what is covered in your prescription plan, check your insurance's formulary, which shows the list of drugs they cover. Some companies offer an app to make this easier, and some provincial governments offer online resources, like Ontario's formulary.
You can find online coupon codes and discount cards that may offer substantial savings. To make the most of these, make sure you always remember to present the card or code to your pharmacist.
While you may not have much control over work plans, it may be worth investing in a personal one, or looking for a new one to help you save money like simple compounding. There is a wide range of insurance products, and if you expect to be needing ongoing medications, this can help you save on prescription drugs.
Another option is to leverage your health savings account. Your earnings that go towards these accounts, reduce the taxes would have paid, so you can pay for your medications with pre-tax dollars.
At Stayner Family Pharmacy, we prioritize our clients' health and work hard to make sure you get the medications you need at the most affordable price. We are always happy to answer any questions you have about your medications, whether you want information on drug prices, interactions, side effects, or anything else.