Most prescription medicines are expensive.
Bart Astor, an expert in life transitions and elder care, offers seven tips on how to save on prescription drugs.
Astor is also the author of the book AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life: Smart Choices About Money, Health, Work, Lifestyle and Pursuing Your Dreams and Baby Boomer’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents. His website isBartAstor.com and he can be reached at Bart@BartAstor.com.
Seven tips to save on prescription drugs
1. Unless the doctor makes it a point to prescribe the brand name, buy the generic. In almost all cases, the active ingredients are the same and should save you a bundle, even if your insurance covers you. Copays for generic drugs are usually less than for the name brand.
2. Ask your doctor for free samples. Most doctors have samples of branded drugs from pharmaceutical companies and while that may not be the full complement you need, it will reduce the number you have to purchase. (For the downside of free samples, see Why Free Drug Samples Can Cost You Too Much.)
3. If larger doses of the drugs are available and the pill comes in tablet form, get your doctor to prescribe the larger dose. Then, cut the pills in half (or in quarters, as appropriate). Make sure the particular tablet can be cut with an inexpensive pill cutter available at most drugstores. But note that there are some pills that cannot be cut or are too small to cut. Your pharmacist can advise you accordingly.
4. COUPON! Google your drug name and the word “coupon” to see which discounts are available. Internetdrugcoupons.com is one site that offers coupons, and there are others. Did I mention the discount can be as much as 70 percent?
5. Get comparative prices, especially from the big box stores (such as Costco and Walmart).
6. Consider using a mail-order pharmacy service. But be sure to check out the particular pharmacy thoroughly. And although Canadian pharmacies are generally reputable, try to steer clear of companies from other countries unless you have personal experience with them.
7. Call the customer service department at the pharmaceutical company that makes the drug. Many companies offer discounts or free samples, especially for people who are low-income or simply on a fixed income, as many of us are who are retired. Some companies will appeal to your insurer on your behalf to cover the drug.