Woman shopping in aisle at the drugstore. foe.width

Saddled With Healthcare Costs? 6 Ways to Save on Medication

Woman shopping in aisle at the drugstore.

Image source: Getty Images

There are certain expenses in life that are unavoidable, like food, transportation, and shelter. And it’s fair to put medication into that category.

A lot of people rely on prescription drugs to address conditions that might otherwise compromise their health or make their days difficult. And so if you’re struggling to cover the cost of your medications, it’s important to take steps to address that issue before you reach the point of having to skip doses. Here are some things you can do to save money.

1. See if a generic version is available and suitable for you

Generic drugs can cost significantly less than name-brand counterparts. If you take a pill that comes in a generic version, it pays to ask your doctor if it’s okay to make a switch. Generic drugs can cost anywhere from 20% to 70% less than name brands, according to the FDA.

2. Get your prescriptions at Costco

A study conducted a few years ago by Consumer Reports found that for five commonly prescribed drugs, the non-insurance cost at Costco was $105 versus $900 at major pharmacies like Rite Aid and CVS. As such, it could pay to see if filling your prescriptions at Costco results in a lower credit card tab. You should also know that you don’t have to be a Costco member to purchase drugs there — though joining might help you save money on groceries and other essentials.

3. Look into Amazon Pharmacy

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, then it could pay to look into Amazon Pharmacy, a program that allows you to order medication online and get automatic refills delivered to your door. Prime members can get as many eligible medications as the program offers for just $5 a month. And you might save up to 80% on certain pills.

However, you’ll want to consult this list of medications offered by Amazon Pharmacy to determine whether the program is right for you. Also, keep in mind that Amazon Prime costs $139 a year, so if you’re not paying for the service already, you’ll need to factor that fee in to see if you’re really saving on your medications.

4. Buy your pills in bulk

Some pharmacies — including mail-order pharmacies and physical stores — give you a discount for ordering medications in bulk. If there’s a pill you take on a daily, ongoing basis, ask your provider to prescribe 90-day supplies rather than 30-day supplies. That might not only save you money, but also, extra trips to the pharmacy.

5. Ask for free samples

It’s pretty common for doctors to get free samples of different medications from pharmaceutical reps promoting their products. If you’re prescribed a medication that’s costly even once you run it through your insurance, or if you don’t have insurance, then always ask if there are free samples you can have when you go to the doctor. You might save a bundle by not having to pay for a limited supply of pills.

6. Look into drug assistance programs

Different states have programs in place that offer assistance to people who are struggling to afford their medication. And if you’re a Medicare enrollee, it pays to talk to your providers about getting help as well.

There are also several pharmaceutical companies that offer help to consumers directly. It pays to search this database to see if the medication you take or the drug company that makes it has such a program in place.

There’s no question about it — the cost of filling a prescription can be astronomical. And even if your individual prescriptions aren’t all that expensive, if you’re on a number of medications, the cost can add up. So it pays to do what you can to lower your costs and ensure that you’re able to keep up with the medications your doctor thinks you need to be on.

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We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers.
The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Maurie Backman has positions in Amazon.com. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon.com and Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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