Even those of us with excellent prescription plans in our insurance packages are often spending more money than we have to on regular medications, especially if there’s something in your regimen that is rare, or not covered. How can you reduce what you pay for prescription medicine? Here are some ideas:
- Ask for Samples: Pharmaceutical companies generally provide free samples of new or rebranded medicines to doctors and hospitals. If you’re being given a new prescription, ask your doctor for a free sample, especially if it’s something like an antihistamine or blood pressure medication that you’ll be using often. You’ll save money, and confirm that the new drug works for you, before committing to an entire thirty-day supply.
- Go Generic: Most doctors don’t automatically prescribe generic versions of drugs. Most insurance plans require that you use a generic if it’s available. If your pharmacist doesn’t offer you a generic automatically, ask for one. It will save you a lot of cash.
- Go Postal: Many insurance companies are pushing the use of in-house pharmacies for regular prescriptions. They ship you a three-month supply by mail, but most of the time, you’ll only pay for two months, and you don’t have to worry about remembering to ask for a refill, or finding time to go to the drug store.
- Join the Club: Chain pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS, and even the drug stores inside department stores, often offer prescription drug “clubs.” You pay a small annual fee, and get prescription medications filled at a deeply discounted rate. Some of these work with insurance plans, but others are meant for people who don’t have prescription drug coverage.
- Over-the-Counter Options? Many drugs, especially pain relievers and antihistamines, that used to require prescriptions are now available “over the counter,” meaning you can just buy them. If your doctor recommends ointments, eye drops, or allergy meds (among others) ask if there’s an OTC (over-the-counter) brand that will work.
While these tips will help you save money on medication, it’s important to remember that health savings accounts can also be used to cover such expenses. Since the funds that are diverted to HSAs are retained by your employer’s provider every year, make sure you use whatever money is available to you before you lose the chance.