Medications and Your Money: Priceless Pointers for Saving on Prescription Drugs
Ironically, those with prescription medication will be tackling their aches and pains whilst also creating another pain for themselves – a financial one. With the cost of prescription drugs rising, insurance companies increasing their premiums and with many generic brands also upping their pricing, having an ailment can become very expensive indeed.
However, there are still a number of ways that you can start saving on your prescription drug bill and here are a few of them:
Opt for Generics Over Named Brands
Even though generics have increased in price recently, they’re often still a more affordable solution than a branded product. Ask your doctor if there are any generic versions of your medication available as these could be as much as 80% cheaper than a brand name drug.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strict guidelines in place which make sure that any generic drugs have to have the same performance and quality standards as the brand name drugs. However, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be any subtle differences, so it’s important to check with your doctor before switching over.
Split or Combine Your Pills
If you’re taking more than one pill for the same condition, it’s worth trying to find out if there’s a combined drug that would provide you with the same results. Your insurer may be asking you to pay X amount a month for two different pills but you may find that there’s a cheaper alternative that combines both pills into one, saving you much more money.
Equally, you may be able to split pills to save some money. Again, this is something you’ll need to check with your doctor first but a higher strength drug may be available that you can split into two – which would half your prescription.
Order Your Pills Online
Mail order companies can provide you with a vast array of common medications, and at a much-reduced cost (find out from RX Outreach). With average savings of around 30 percent and with the comfort of ordering from your own home, this could be a great cost- and time-saving change for you. Always check the processing time for these types of companies so you know how long you need to allow for a new prescription.
Check Your Insurer’s Formulary
A formulary is a list of medications that the insurance plan you’re signed up to will cover. Over recent years, these lists have become even more complicated, with different tiers being introduced and differing price categories. Originally, a formulary would have two tiers, whereby the first tier
would charge you for generics but the higher tier would be for brand-name drugs. According to KFF, in 2015 prescription drug benefits plans had three or more tiers for 81% of workers, with 23% having four or more.
In essence; the higher the tier you are in, the more you’re going to pay. In 2015, first-tiers (which usually contain generics) were $11 on average whilst fourth-tiers were $93. This can add a lot of confusion to your prescription bills and insurance plans, as many don’t know where their drugs are located in the formulary, so they don’t know how much they are going to be charged.
However, where there are lower tiers, if you can switch to an equivalent drug that is cheaper, your insurer will save money. Furthermore, one insurer plan may have been able to negotiate a better price with a particular manufacturer in return for them charging more for a competitor’s drugs.
Whatever your plan involves, you will find that there are incentives in place to try and make you switch providers. Take your formulary list to your physician and ask them to look and see if there’s a drug on the lower-paying tiers that you could swap to.
See if You Can Be an Exception
If you find that you require a drug that isn’t on your insurer’s list, you may find that they’ll waive their restrictions for you, or charge you a lower price if this medication is confirmed absolutely necessary by your doctor.
Should your insurer not provide you with much flexibility or you aren’t able to change some of your drugs to lower-paying tiers, consider changing your provider. Shop around to see who offers the best deal, looking at which ones have your prescription medications (or generic alternatives) in the lower-paying brackets. You may also find that you’re entitled to some help from state programs, so always look into this too.
Keira Tucker is a Mom on a budget and saves money every way she can. She is carer to her 20 year old son and writes about frugality, caring for a disabled child and other topics.