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Ten ways to save money on prescriptions

Updated on April 18, 2013

It is estimated that over 50% of Americans take a prescription medication on a daily basis. With the rising cost of prescription medications, it only makes sense to look for ways to save money on prescriptions. What follows is a list of ten things you can do tosave money on prescription medications.

  1. Pursue a healthy lifestyle. The easiest way to save money on prescription medications….don’t take any! By this, I don’t mean to skip out on your medications, but rather pursue a healthy lifestyle to prevent the conditions that will require constant medication. The number of people I see on a daily basis who ignore this little piece of advice is astounding. I personally know people who complain about taking medication for high blood pressure, and yet they smoke like a freight train. Or the people who take medication for high cholesterol, but refuse to give up their three meals a day of fast food. I feel that if a more people would live a healthy lifestyle, then there would be far fewer with medical problems, and ultimately far fewer taking prescription medications.
  2. Avoid the drugstore.Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club and Kroger….what do these stores have in common? Cheap prescriptions, that’s what! While everyone gets a warm fuzzy feeling by going into the old fashioned drugstore where the pharmacist knows you by name, the truth is that these chain stores can buy medications in bulk and get a huge quantity discount. Often times, you can find prescriptions for half of the price of the local drugstore. Walmart and Kroger both offer $4.00 prescriptions on a variety of generic drugs, which is lower than most insurance copays. Some of these stores even offer free delivery by mail.
  3. Generic Drugs.While on the subject of $4.00 generic drugs at Kroger and Walmart, be sure to ask your physician if there is a generic equivalent of any drugs you are taking. This is often one of the easiest ways to save money on prescriptions. It is possible to save 50%….even more if the generic falls on the $4.00 list of Kroger and Walmart. If you are taking a drug that was developed within the past few years, odds are there is not a generic equivalent yet. (And no matter how you feel about the profit margin of drug companies, remember that the average cost to develop a new drug in 2010 was $1 billion per drug….so it will take the drug company some to to begin making a profit on the new drug.)
  4. Ask for free samples. Doctor’s offices are bombarded on a daily basis with drug reps. And what do those drug reps hand out besides pens and stationary? You guessed it….free samples! Don’t be afraid to ask about free samples; this is an easy way to save some money. Some doctor’s offices have policies to get these free samples to those who need them the most. For example, a dermatologist that I used to see gave free samples to the patients who did not have insurance coverage on prescriptions.
  5. Save on your copay.This one only applies if you have an insurance policy the requires a copay when buying prescriptions. If you have a prescription that is filled on a monthly basis, ask your physician if he will write a three month prescription. That way, you can save money on two months’ worth of copays.

  1. Cut you pills. Another method to save money on prescriptions is to ask your physician to double the does so that you can cut the pill in half. Since prescriptions are usually priced per pill (and not by dosage), you can essentially cut your prescription cost in half. However, be sure to ask your physician about this one, as some medications will loose their effectiveness when they are cut. Other medications may have undesirable side effects (like an upset stomach).
  2. Alternative medications. Many physicians (particularly those just out of medical school) always want to prescribe the latest, greatest cure for whatever ails you. While modern advances are great, if an older drug is effective, there is no reason not to use it. Often times, the older drug is cheaper, not to mention it is more likely to be available in generic form. For example, while there are a lot of new antibiotics on the market, penicillin and erythromycin are still very effective against many infections, and they are very cheap (not to mention available as generics).
  3. Non-prescription medications. Ask your physician if there is an over-the-counter medication that will treat your condition. Many over-the-counter medications have a long track record of effectiveness….just think of names like Benadryl, Tylenol PM, Unisom.
  4. Use your flexible spending account. If your employer offer a flexible spending account, use it. Flexible spending accounts allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars for medical expenses. Be warned, however, that you loose any money in the account not used by the end of the year. My advice is to estimate your medical costs for the year and set aside less than that amount. Consider that if you are in the 25% tax bracket, you will save $250 in taxes if you spend $1000 on medical expenses in a year….not a bad way to save money.
  5. Mail order pharmacies. In recent years, these have become more and more popular, and for good reason….you save money! Since mail order pharmacies do not have a traditional “brick and mortar” location, the overhead of these companies is often very low. In addition, they often fill the prescriptions in three month intervals, allowing you to save money on two month’s worth of copays when compared to a one month supply.

I hope you have enjoyed this hub. Please check out some of my other articles on how to save money. Have a question or comment? Please enter it in the comment box below. Thanks!

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    • profile image

      Traci Pondick 

      5 years ago

      You didn't mention prescription assistance programs. All pharmaceutical companies are required to offer their meds to people with no health insurance and who cannot afford to pay for them. Find out who makes the drug & check out their website.

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