The cost of pharmaceuticals has become a national emergency, the subject of continuing Congressional hearings, negative publicity and consumer backlash. For the many Americans who are uninsured or underinsured, purchasing a prescription medicine can mean making a choice between paying the mortgage and buying the medicine. Far too many times, the choice has been made against the medicine, with tragic results.
While the issue of out-of-control prescription costs is fought in the halls of legislative and regulatory bodies, there are some things you can do to help yourself. When personal budgets are already tight, and most of us are dealing with credit card bills, mortgages, consumer loans, college loans, etc. the last thing we need is an out-of-pocket expense for a costly prescription medication.
Here are 6 ways you can save money on prescription medicine.
- Be Certain You Need a Brand-Name Drug
Physicians tend to lean toward brand-name drugs over generic. Explain your financial situation to your doctor or that you lack adequate insurance, and ask him or her to prescribe a generic brand, if one is available. If not, then ask your doctor if there is a different prescription that is less costly. All manufacturers do not charge the same price for equivalent medications.
- Take Advantage of Free Samples
Doctors receive lots of free samples of brand-name drugs from pharmaceutical companies. Ask your doctor to give you a full-size sample to at least tide you over until you are able to organize some other prescription medicine assistance program.
- Discount Prescription Programs
There are many discount prescription drug programs across the country that are available to you regardless of your income. For example, the WebMDRX discount card can be used at 60,000 pharmacies across America and it is free. It can be used by the entire family. All you need to do is show it to the pharmacist when you turn in your prescription. FamilyWize also offers a discount card which you can download from the internet. You can save as much as 43% on your prescription costs. Like the WebMDRX card, you simply show it to the pharmacist when you drop off your prescription.
- Pharmaceutical Programs
Many pharmaceutical companies offer assistance programs to help people access brand name prescription drugs. It is even possible to obtain free medicine directly from the drug manufacturer. Do some investigating, but here are a few ideas:
- The Patient and Prescription Assistance Program at Pfizer helps patients access free or significantly discounted medicine, such as Zoloft and Lipitor. Just visit their website, Pfizer RxPathways, look up your prescription and follow the platform advice from there.
- The AZ&Me is run by AstraZeneca, makers of Crestor, Nexium and Symbicort, among others. Their program is primarily for the uninsured, but they also assist those going through a financial hardship.
- Merck, makers of drugs such as Singulair, also has a program—Merck Helps. To qualify, you must be uninsured and meet certain income guidelines. Visit their website to see if you qualify.
Many times when you receive your prescription from the doctor, it will include a manufacturer’s coupon, but the secret is that you can access these coupons yourself. This does not work for generic drugs, but if you have been given a prescription for a brand name drug, first go to the manufacturer’s website and download the coupon or drug savings card. You can save money.
- Comparison shop.
You may have your favorite pharmacy because you like the people or some other reason, but it really pays to shop around. All pharmacies do not charge the same price, even if it is a prescription drug. Before heading out the door, go online to GoodRx. The site will tell you the prices of your medicine at various pharmacies in your area and also will let you know if there are coupons available.
Bottom line: Your health is the most important asset you have. Make it a priority. Consider applying for a marketplace loan to help with uncovered medical expenses, such as prescription medicines, should you not be successful with accessing one of the assistance programs.