It’s no secret that prescription drugs can take a large bite out of your budget. Even if you have insurance coverage, copayments on brand name drugs can reach $50 to $75 a month. If you or a family member takes one or two brand-name prescription drugs, you’re looking at a significant monthly nut at the pharmacy.
How can you save money on prescription drugs? Assuming you’ve already switched to generic drugs where available, here are a few tips to save even more money.
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Ask About Alternative Drugs
Not everyone can take this route, but you could talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether your brand name prescription has a cousin that’s available in generic form. Some brand name drugs differ very little from drugs available in generic form, and just because a drug is newer doesn’t mean that it’s better than older, cheaper alternatives.
Sometimes when a prescription drug is about to lose its patent protection, the pharmaceutical company comes out with a new drug with a slight change to the formulation. They convince the FDA that the new drug is safe and effective and market it to doctors and patients as the next big thing.
This means you could be paying a whole lot more for a drug that’s almost the same as another medication that’s available on the cheap as a generic. One example of this is Nexium, which has the same active ingredient as Prilosec.
Try Super Cheap Generic Drugs
Not only does Walmart offer a long list of generic drugs costing $4 for a month’s supply or $10 for 90 days worth, but the retailer offers free mail order delivery of prescriptions. Target has a $4 prescription program, too, and you may also save on prescriptions if you have a warehouse membership to Sam’s Club or Costco.
Be sure to ask for the price without insurance when shopping for generics. Sometimes, if you present an insurance card, you’ll get charged your full copayment of $10, $25 or more, even if you can buy the drug for $4 without insurance.
Marley Drug out of Winston-Salem offers a large selection of generic drugs at discounted prices via mail order with free shipping to North Carolina, South Carolina, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New Jersey.
The pharmacy offers drugs in three-month, six-month, nine-month and even 12-month supplies. A year’s worth of many generic drugs costs just $70.
Check Out Free Prescription Discount Cards
GoodRx.com will send you a free discount card good at most popular pharmacies. It’s not a prescription insurance plan, but a discount card that can save you some money in purchasing brand name drugs without coverage or if you have a large deductible to meet before prescription coverage kicks in.
I’d be hesitant to pay money for a prescription discount card. Ask around at pharmacies to see what discount cards they accept and which ones actually save a fair amount of money for their customers.
Do You Belong to a Group That Offers Drug Discounts?
AAA and AARP are examples of popular clubs that offer prescription savings opportunities to their members.
Brand name prescriptions and even generics can vary widely in price. Walmart, Costco and Sam’s Club generally offer the best prices – but not always. A drug that costs $100 a month at one pharmacy could cost $80 at another one and $125 at yet another. It really can pay to call around, and prices sometimes change regularly, so you may want to pick up the phone every couple of months.
Watch Weekly Ads For Offers of Free Gift Cards for Transferred Prescriptions
Grocery store pharmacies as well as chains like CVS and Walgreens occasionally offer gift cards worth $25 or more in return for transferring a prescription or bringing in a new one. You’ll want to check prices to make sure you won’t end up paying more. If you have the same copayment regardless of where you go, and you don’t mind a bit of extra legwork, going for the gift cards can help ease the financial burden of drug prices.
Compare Prices at BidRx.com
You need to register for the site and use a referral code (GRACE works as of this writing), then enter the drug and dosage to look at available offers from pharmacies. Use with caution, though, and read the fine print. Even linking to their site without permission violates their extremely long-winded terms of service agreement.
Once you jump through the hoops, it can save you some time in having to phone around various pharmacies asking for price quotes. As of this writing, a lot of pharmacies didn’t offer this information on their websites.