Looking for discounted prescription medications isn’t exactly like visiting the clearance rack at your local department store. Prescription drugs don’t go “on-sale” in the traditional sense of the word, so you’ll have to get a bit more creative if you’re looking to save money on your prescriptions. With the cost of prescription drugs going up seemingly every day, many patients feel frustrated and afraid that they won’t be able to afford the medications they need to manage chronic health conditions or recover from a serious illness or surgery. Over 80 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured, meaning their prescription drug coverage is either inadequate or nonexistent. Regardless of insured status, many people are looking for ways to save at the pharmacy counter. Here’s how to find discounted medication.
Choose Generic Drugs
Long before you ever reach the pharmacy counter, talk to your doctor about using a generic alternative for your name-brand medication. Generic drugs use the same active ingredients and undergo the same rigorous testing as brand name medications, but costs stay lower due to the different inactive ingredients and the lack of “prestige” associated with the brand name medication. You’ll get effective treatment at a fraction of the cost. Although the active ingredients are the same, generic drugs may not be the right choice in every situation depending on your medical history, so make sure you ask your doctor before making the switch.
It might not be the most convenient thing to do, but shopping around can save you big money on prescription drugs. While you’d think that every pharmacy would price their medications the same, this is not the case; prescriptions typically cost more in affluent areas where it is perceived that patients can pay more for their medications. Pharmacies located in lower-income areas will often have lower prices on prescription drugs. Use a price comparison tool to find the lowest prices in your area and save some extra cash.
Try a Pharmacy Discount Card
Pharmacy discount cards can save you big bucks on your prescriptions regardless of whether you have insurance or not. Unlike insurance, which usually does not cover all types of medication and may have coverage limits that prevent you from receiving savings, pharmacy discount cards offer discounts on all FDA-approved medications whether they are brand name or generic. Pharmacy discount cards are free and usually have zero or few eligibility restrictions, and you won’t have to provide any medical history or medication information to enroll. Although pharmacy discount cards cannot be combined with insurance to receive additional discounts, discounts on medications can range from 10 to 75 percent and are often greater than the discounts offered by even the best insurance plans.
Look for Coupons and Rebates
Some manufacturers offer coupons or reduced copays on the brand name form of a medication, but these offers are usually not available for generic drugs. Your doctor may be able to provide you with a coupon code for your medication along with a free sample when you visit their office, but coupons and rebates are also often available directly from a website and can be easily printed off.
Check Patient Assistance Programs
Some drug companies offer patient assistance programs for medications that are generally not covered by insurance or are too expensive for people who need them. Patient rebate programs are generally available to those who are low-income, uninsured, or underinsured, or whose insurance does not cover a specific case. There are eligibility requirements associated with patient assistance programs, as individuals who are covered by Medicare and/or Medicaid are frequently ineligible for these programs. Some patient assistance programs have maximum income limits, while others do not specify their income criteria.