7 ways to save cash on prescription drugs – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publications – May 18, 2017 – Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
What about people who can’t — or don’t want to — pay for prescription medications to treat chronic or serious illness? “It’s a real problem. Medications only work if people take them, and you can’t take them if you can’t afford them,” says Dr. Joshua Gagne, a pharmacist and epidemiologist with Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
According to a National Center for Health Statistics survey, about 8% of adults in the United States don’t take prescribed medications because they can’t afford them.
Even if cost is not affecting your medication regimen, the following ideas may save you some money.
- Go to a big-box store.
Many pharmacies in grocery stores and big-box chains offer hundreds of generic medications for just $4 (for a 30-day supply) or $10 (for a 90-day supply).
- Get a bigger dose.
Some prescription medications can be divided with a pill splitter. Ask your doctor if that’s the case with your medication, and if it’s possible to get a double dose. For example, you might get 10-milligram (mg) pills that can be split into 5-mg pills.
- Get a larger supply.
Instead of getting a prescription that lasts for 30 days, and making an insurance copay each time, ask for a 90-day supply so you can make just one copay every three months. This works for medications you take long-term.
- Apply for assistance.
There are many kinds of prescription assistance programs, offered by state and local governments, Medicare, nonprofit groups, and even drug makers. The programs typically have income requirements.
Nonprofit organizations include: Needy Meds and Partnership for Prescription Assistance.
Other resources include state assistance programs and Medicare Extra Help.
Another option is to call the manufacturer of your medication directly. You can look up your medication on this Medicare website.
- If you’re on Medicare, consider updating your plan.
Medicare plans can change from year to year, including the medications they cover, and the copays and deductible amounts.
You have an opportunity to switch Medicare plans during the annual enrollment period from October 15 to December 7. Review the options using Medicare’s personalized plan search on its website.
- Shop around.
Medication retail prices vary. Some pharmacies buy directly from drug makers; others use a middleman, which can drive up prices. Call pharmacies in your area to compare prices, or use a computer or smartphone app to do the work for you, such as WeRx or GoodRx. The attorney general’s office in your state may also have a website that provides similar information.