Based on the latest statistics, you’ll not be far from the truth if you say the world has become a planet of pill poppers. In 2010, American patients and insurance companies alone spent about $250 billion on prescription drugs, up from $40 million in 1990. Prescription drugs are becoming more expensive. They are taking a large part of our budgets. Unfortunately, our doctors aren’t necessarily thinking about our bank accounts when they pull out their prescription pads. They are actually the least to rely on for the most cost-effective options. So, below are seven dos and don’ts that will not only help save your pocketbook, but also put your mind at peace.
Generic drugs are safe and much more affordable than their brand name counterparts. With generic drugs – medication without all the fancy advertising – the potential savings are incredible. Over 80 percent of FDA-approved drugs have generic alternatives that as just as effective as the brand-names. They give you the same active ingredients and are available in the same strength and dosage as the brand-name drugs at a fraction of the cost.
Ask for a Lower Price
Shop around, call various pharmacies, and ask each how much it would cost to purchase your prescription medication at their pharmacy. Inquire about discounts and special offers before hitting upon the best price. Don’t be shy… let them know you are comparing shopping. Try to negotiate because obviously the price of your medication isn’t set in stone
Check your Insurer’s Formulary
An insurer’s formulary is the list of medications covered by your medical insurer. Depending on your formulary, copayments for two similar drugs, for example Zocor or Crestor to treat cholesterol, may be very different. So to avoid paying for the pricier drugs, you need options. Ask your doctor for a list of top three choices for every new drug he or she prescribes. Then, check out with your insurer the copayment on each as well as any applicable formulary restrictions. Choose the best option and let your doctor know the drug you prefer.
Choose the Right Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage
The right prescription plan depends in part on the kind of drugs you take. Most seniors are enrolled under original Medicare, including hospital insurance (Medical Part A) and medical insurance (Medical Part B). You can get a drug coverage using additional extra steps. Seniors can get such drug benefits through a government-regulated private plan known as Medical Part D that charges between $15 and $170 per month. The best alternative is the Medical Part C, also called Medical Advantage Plan, which replaces the original Medicare and provides prescription coverage as well. It lumps Medicare A, B and D all into one.
Look into Splitting High-Dose Pills
Pill splitting revolves around the fact that many pills cost almost the same even if they contain twice as much medication. A 50 mg pill is roughly close in price to a 25 mg pill of the same drug. Check with your pharmacist or doctor if your medication is safe for pill splitting. If so, get your doctor to prescribe twice the dosage you need, so you can split your pills in half.
Ask your Doctor for Free Samples
Most doctors have samples of branded drugs from pharmaceutical companies. While taking free samples may not be the full complement you actually need, it will reduce considerably the number you have to purchase. However, use these free samples with caution. Talk with your doctor over future treatment plans before you begin to use the free samples just in case they lead to some expensive brand name prescription later. This means you could get a head start on your medication for free.
Communicate with your Doctor
It’s a good idea to tell your doctors if paying for medicine is a problem. Remember, not being able to afford medication clearly affects your health. It’s a mistake to assume your doctor is writing a prescription for the least-expensive drug on the market. Many physicians do collaborate with drug companies through incentives. It’s not surprising to find physicians who have personal preferences. Ask him or her about less-expensive alternatives. He or she may also give you valuable information about the Medicare prescription drug benefit, help you sign application forms for patient assistance programs, or refer you to a state-sponsored services and community assistance programs.
What do you think is the most effective way to save money on prescription drugs? Comment and let us know!