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Saving Money on Prescription Medications

Updated on April 9, 2011

Prescription medication can be costly. Unexpected prescriptions, as in the case of sudden illness, can put a big wrench in your budget, but sometimes it is the routine, daily medicines that mess up your finances the most. If you have insurance it does help, but even with it, prescriptions can be costly. When we lived in Colorado we had a prescription plan that our copays would either be $10, $20 or $40. Guess which ones we needed most often? $40 bucks a pop is no fun on the wallet. Here are some ideas for saving money on prescription needs.

  1. Ask for medicines from the doctor. They get all sorts of samples from pharmaceutical companies. Doctors have told me that they wish more people would ask for them because they throw out so many expired medicines each year that people could have used. They are just so busy they don't remember to mention it to you.
  2. Ask your doctor if they have coupons. Twice now, I have been given coupons from my doctor for the medicine I was getting filled. It has paid for the medicine completely and the latest one will pay for the medicine for the whole year, saving me $120.
  3. Ask for a generic medicine. Frequently pharmacies will automatically fill your prescription with a generic and usually it isn't a big deal. But, while you are at your doctor you should ask if a generic is OK for you to use. Saving money isn't worth it if your health will be affected.
  4. Ask your doctor if there is a cheaper medicine available that will meet your needs. In Colorado my son had to have the $40 antibiotic because he was allergic to the cheaper meds, but for most people the cheaper ones would work fine.
  5. Check into local pharmacy programs. Our local grocery store pharmacy is offering free antibiotics right now. This would be especially helpful for someone who doesn't have insurance.
  6. Try mail order. All of our medicines require a new prescription each month, but for a medicine that you get a years prescription at once this is a great option. You are usually required to order several months at a time, but the cost is lower in the end. Think of it like buying groceries in bulk. Higher upfront cost, but lower unit cost.
  7. Take advantage of prescription transfer or new prescription coupons. Most drug stores and even Target will occasionally put these coupons out. Right now there is one from Target for a $10 gift card with a new or transferred prescription. As long as your medications don't run the risk of interfering with each other, transferring them around can save you money. I go to Target every couple of weeks and I also get four prescriptions filled each month. There is no reason not to use this coupon and I end up getting something else I need for free in the process.
  8. Get a larger amount of medicine at a time.  For instance we visit the doctor every three months to get prescriptions for my son.  At first the doctor gave me a prescription for 30 days with two refills.  The next time we went asked if he could write me the prescription for 90 pills instead.  He gladly did it and I save two copays.

Whether you get prescriptions filled rarely or routinely, saving money on them is a good idea. Use these tips to help your budget all the time.


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    • profile image

      Tifani 6 years ago

      My husband and I hand out free prescription discount cards for a company called ProvisionRX. The cards work on most prescriptions but does not work in addition to insurance. You can present both cards to see which one will save you more. If you would like to print a card for yourself or anyone you know please check out and click on the middle/right side of the page. It will print as a PDF. If you prefer a laminated card for multiple uses please email your mailing information to and we will gladly mail you as many cards as you need. We have been able to help a large amount of people so far and would love to help you. It is especially beneficial to the uninsured and those on Medicare as not all prescriptions are covered.

    • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 7 years ago from Philippines

      I'm a senior citizen enjoying the benefits of my ID as such for cuts on medicine cost. I also do as you say here except # 6. I'm on a weekly purchase basis as required of a senior citizen. Cool and informative hub.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Great advice. My doctor is pretty generous in giving me free samples, especially when the med is an expensive one.

    • profile image

      kims3003 7 years ago

      Wonderful article!

    • Daddy Paul profile image

      Daddy Paul 7 years ago from Michigan

      Good ideas. Mail order can be good or it can be a lot more than the chain store. I have seen it both ways.

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 7 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi jennifer,

      Medicines are expensive and it puts pressure on the wallet especially at the time of recession. People have to be intelligent and educated enough to cut on their medical bills.

      Thanks for sharing excellent tips.

      Rated up!

      Jyoti Kothari

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 7 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      getting sick is really expensive, but you have excellent tips here tat can considerable slash down from the amount your prescriptions. thanks

    • fiksy02 profile image

      Fikayo Balogun 7 years ago from London

      thanks for the great tips. in my country people do a lot of self medication because of expensive medical care. this hub was a great help for aleast if they know they can get the drugs a lot lesser, they will pay for the professional prescribtion thoughh some of the points you have made are not relevant in my country. good job.

    • fiksy02 profile image

      Fikayo Balogun 7 years ago from London

      thanks for the great tips. in my country people do a lot of self medication because of expensive medical care. this hub was a great help for aleast if they know they can get the drugs a lot lesser, they will pay for the professional prescribtion thoughh some of the points you have made are not relevant in my country. good job.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Well written and informative hub to help people.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      You made some really excellent points, Jennifer. You're absolutely right about the free samples. I have several friends who are pharmaceutical reps (sell drugs from the trunks of their cars) and they give away tons of meds to all the doctors they meet with. Thanks again for such useful, money saving tips!

    • DiamondRN profile image

      Bob Diamond RPh 7 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      If you don't have any prescription insurance you are on your own. Most grocery store type chain pharmacies are losing money on their Medicaid and other large prescription insurance providers such as Blue Cross and Aetna, etc. The only way they can stay in business is to charge the unsuspecting cash paying customer the difference. Retirees and the working poor who can't afford insurance are often victims of this system. Try to find a prescription discount card, free if possible, that you can use for prescriptions that aren't on their $4 list. Anytime you are part of a group, you have some leverage. When you are on your own, you are on your own! As an example, I just did an Internet search and came up with There are many others. This is just an example. I'm not promoting this particular company. PS. I am a pharmacist with over 30 years experience in community and hospital pharmacy.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      There is also a $4 prescription plan at Walmart - there may be others like it - it is for certain medications but it really is saving a lot of people money at a time when budgets are stretched so tight. Excellent advice - and your one point is most important - ask! People are sometimes afraid to ask because they don't want to be perceived as cheap but saving money is saving money! Audrey