The CDC estimates that 8% of adults in the US don’t take their prescription medications as prescribed to save money. This number increases to 14% if you’re uninsured.1 However, this cost-saving strategy may increase the use of ER services and hospitalizations, and ultimately result in poorer health and increased health costs.
There are a number of other strategies that can effectively decrease the cost of prescription medications for people and improve medication adherence.
1. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are less costly alternative medications.
- Usually each drug class, or category, contains multiple medications that work similarly and could be safely and effectively substituted. If the medication your doctor prescribed is only available as a Brand Name medication, changing to a different medication in the same class that is available as a generic can lower your medication cost and copay.
2. Ask your insurance company if there are preferred drug stores for your plan.
- Insurance companies make deals each year with retail pharmacies (yep, this can change EVERY year). This means that your copay may be $10 at Walgreens but $15 at Walmart (or vice-versa) for exactly the same medication and quantity.
3. Ask your pharmacy if they offer a savings club or discounted list of drugs.
- By paying an annual fee you may be eligible to get special discounted pricing for prescription medications. Some pharmacies offer a 90 day supply of common generic medications for as little as $12. However, if you use a store club, the money you spend on your medication will NOT go towards your deductible since your insurance isn’t billed.
4. Convert your 30 day supply of medication to a 90 day supply.
- Many insurance companies will give you a discount if you fill your prescription as a 90 day supply. Typically, the price ends up saving you a copay. So if you pay $10 for a 30 day supply, you’ll pay $20 for a 90 day supply.
5. Ask your provider if you can safely stop taking any of your current medications.
- Consumer Reports found that when people asked their provider if they could stop one of their medications safely, the answer was yes 30% of the time!
Finally, when in doubt, ask your pharmacist! There are ALWAYS opportunities to decrease the cost of your prescription medications, it just might require some creative thinking, patience, and teamwork!
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If you found this helpful, you may want to check out the following:
New Year, New Medical Insurance: What You Need to Know
Pharmacy Costs and Open Enrollment: What to Consider When Picking a Plan
5 Key Steps to Better Manage Your Health
1. Cohen RS, Villarroel MA. U.S. DHHS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics. Strategies Used by Adults to Reduce Their Prescription Drug Costs: United States, 2013. NCHS Data Brief. 2015 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db184.pdf
2. Gill L. Consumer Reports. How to Pay Less for Your Meds. 2018. https://www.consumerreports.org/drug-prices/how-to-pay-less-for-your-meds/