Medications for Less: 6 Clever Ways to Save Money on Prescriptions

pile of medications

Are you struggling to afford your prescription drugs?

If yes, then you’re not alone. Brand name prescription drugs can end up costing you thousands of dollars per year, putting a serious dent in your budget. It’s time to think smart and use every resource that’s available to you.

Keep reading for 6 of the most clever ways to save money on prescriptions.

1. Use an Online Pharmacy

Pharmacies pass on overhead expenses to the customers who buy prescriptions from them. Online pharmacies have fewer of these.

This translates into a reduction in prescription costs for you. Even better: you’ll save yourself the hassle of trekking to the pharmacy and back.

To do this, search online for a licensed pharmacy that’ll deliver to your neighborhood. If you have one, check your insurance company allows your chosen pharmacy. Some specify which pharmacies you can use, so it’s important you make sure.

You also need to verify your chosen pharmacy’s credentials. An online pharmacy should:

  • Be licensed and practice in the US
  • Have a VIPPS – a ‘Verified Pharmacy Practice Site’
  • Need you to provide a prescription so they can refill your drugs
  • Have an actual pharmacy with real staff you can contact

Always do your due diligence and make sure that the pharmacy is legitimate. Saving a few dollars isn’t worth the risks of using an unlicensed pharmacy.

2. Ask For Generic/Low-Cost Medicines

When prescribing medicine, your budget isn’t always taken into consideration. You won’t always be able to get generic drugs, but you should always tell your doctor that you want low-cost options.

Many drugs come in branded and generic versions. Generic drugs have the same active ingredients but may have minor differences such as fillers.

Generic options are just as effective but are often substantially cheaper. You can find out more here.

If the drug you use doesn’t have a generic option, don’t worry. Chat to your doctor about other drug options for you.

A brand name drug is sometimes suggested because it needs fewer check-ups. But it’s your choice how you manage your condition.

A good example is anticoagulation drugs Xarelto and Coumadin. The new, brand-named Xarelto is often prescribed over the older Coumadin.

Both are for the same issue and do the same thing. Coumadin needs regular blood tests and follow-ups though, and Xarelto doesn’t.

Xarelto comes in at around $6,000 per year but Coumadin is only around $200 per year. If the follow-up appointments aren’t an issue, you can save a lot of money going for the generic options.

3. Use an HSA/FSA

Find out if your employer offers employees a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health spending account (HSA). Both HSAs and FSAs allow you to pay health expenses with pre-tax earnings. This includes prescriptions, which could see huge savings for you.

You need to know that these two accounts have different rules. You can contribute to your FSA or HSA and your employer will likely contribute too.

But, at the year’s end, FSAs don’t roll over. This means if you have money you haven’t used, you’ll lose it.

4. Get a NACo Card

Get yourself a NACo card. It offers access to a free prescription discount service.

Not all counties have signed up, so check that your county is a participant. For those of you who aren’t insured or don’t have coverage for prescriptions, you can save up to 24%.

It’s easy to get! Visit the NACo website and fill out the online form. Put in your zip code to check it covers your area. If so, you’ll get the NACo card delivered to your home for free.

5. Find a Prescription Assistance Program

It’s common for pharmaceutical companies to have prescription assistance programs (PAPs). These are most useful if you’re under-insured or uninsured. PAPs normally cover very high-cost drugs, and pharmaceutical companies use PAPs to make them available for public use.

If you don’t know which pharmaceutical company makes your drugs, look it up online. Put in the name of your drug and you’ll be able to find out if there’s a PAP available, as well as the pharmaceutical company offering it. If it’s available, it’ll tell you what requirements there are and how you apply.

The savings aren’t small. For example, if you need the antibiotic Zyvox, without insurance, you could be paying $2,000. By applying for the Zyvox PAP, if you meet requirements, you could see that out-of-pocket cost drop to zero.

6. Get Medicare Extra Help

If you’re on a Medicare Part D plan (Medicare’s prescription drug plan), you can get price breaks if eligible. This is via the Extra Help program. This means you’ll pay no more than $2.65 for generic drugs and $6.60 for the named brands.

You might be eligible if you or a family member have received:

  • A Medicare notice telling you that you’ve qualified
  • An Extra Help auto-enrollment from Medicare
  • Medicaid help and/or Supplemental Security Income
  • Social Security “Notice of Award” for Extra Help

If your income falls below a designated level, you should receive confirmation that you’re eligible for Extra Help. If you don’t qualify, you can find a Medicare D plan that helps meet your prescription coverage needs. By checking out the Medicare Plan Finder, you can compare co-pays and coverage programs.

Be Savvy and Save Money on Prescriptions

So there you have it: if you follow these 6 tips, you’ll be sure to save money on prescriptions. You have to be clever and think smart.

Take advantage of those programs like Medicare Extra Help, NACo, and PAPs. Consider asking your doctor for generic drug options instead of brand name drugs. They’ll work as well as their more expensive counterparts!

Going mail-order can help too, which cuts down on overhead pharmacy charges. Even your employer could help with useful savings account programs.

Know what’s at your disposal and use it. It would be rude not to!

If you found this article useful, check out our other money-saving blogs. From health and fitness to personal finance and travel, we have tips to suit all your money-saving needs.

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