Most of us will end up taking a prescription medication at one point or another during our lives. For many, many reasons, none of which we will get into here, medication prices can be through the roof. It’s enough to make it difficult for some people to afford medications they need to treat a constant condition. Regardless of whether you need to take a medication long term or just for a couple of weeks for a short illness, there are a few ways you can avoid paying the absolute top dollar for your medication.
- Ask for samples. Doctors often get samples from medical companies to specifically give out to patients. If your doctor prescribes a new medication, ask if they happen to have a week or two’s worth of samples you can try.
- Shop around pharmacies. It may be convenient to get your prescriptions at your clinic’s pharmacy immediately after your appointment is over, but it may not be the cheapest option. Even if your insurance covers, say, 80% of prescription medications, one pharmacy may sell that medicine for $100 and another down the street will sell it for $90. The savings might seem small in the short term, but especially if this is a medication you need to take for months or years, the savings will absolutely add up over time.
- Use generics. My doctors generally have the habit of adding “generic substitution OK” to any prescriptions they write for me (assuming one is available), and my pharmacy has no problems doing this. However, this is not the case at every clinic. If your doctor says he or she is putting you on a new medication, immediately ask if there is a generic available that is okay to use. The active ingredients in generics are exactly the same as name-brand meds, just at a lower cost.
- Get more at a time. You know how 10lbs of onions at Costco are like $3, but at the grocery store they’re $0.69 a pound, making them more expensive? Medicine often works the same way. I was surprised to find that, after paying $10 a month for a 30 day supply of a medication for a few months, my doctor increased the prescription to a 90 day supply—which was only $15 total, for all 3 months. If you need to be on a medication for a long time, see if a multiple-month supply will cost less.
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