Medication can make all the difference in managing or overcoming an illness, but if you’re feeling the pinch of your purse strings, you might want to be careful before you order any pills. There are ways to save money on both prescription and over-the-counter drugs; you just have to be willing to use them. Here are nine tips for cutting costs when it comes to medication.
1. Ask Your Doctor for Help
Before your doctor writes your prescription, ask them if they know how much it will cost or if there’s anything cheaper available. While they might not know the answer offhand, they should be able to check a computer or consult with a pharmacist to find out. This can save you hundreds of dollars if you’re able to find something less expensive from the get-go.
2. Look at the Label
Were you aware that most off-brand medications have the same main ingredients as big-name brands? The difference is usually in the dosage or the additives. If you can’t afford the hefty price tag of a better-known brand, take a picture of its label and see if any generic alternatives have the same one.
3. Compare and Contrast
Always check out pharmacies and drugstores to see where you can find your medication for less. It also pays to look for alternative or diminutive versions of the drug’s brand name; for example, Duoneb is an inhaler medication that might also be listed under Ipratropium or Albuterol. If you can’t find the former on a particular website, look for the latter.
4. Utilize Coupons
You can find coupons for medication just as easily as coupons for washing detergent. While most of them are for basic things like allergy sprays and cold relief, there are also websites devoted to discount-hunting for expensive prescription medications. Some manufacturers will even offer free trials and samples for long-term drugs where the goal is to make you a loyal customer for years to come.
5. Switch the Format
It’s not uncommon for the same medication to be available in several different forms. For example, there might be a pill version, a capsule version and a liquid version of the exact same product, or it might be offered as both a supplement and a spray. If the price tags aren’t the same between these variations, you can save a few bucks by switching to the cheapest one.
6. Join a Subscription Service
While there are usually limitations on how much medication you can bulk order at one time, the rules are more lax about 30- and 60-day refills. You can find these “subscription” services through online medication suppliers and mail-order companies. Some will even give you a discount if you sign up for an extended subscription period.
7. Check Your Co-Pays
Similar drugs might have wildly different co-pays, so it’s worth the trouble of calling up your pharmacy and asking about them. Their formulary should have a full list available for their perusal. Don’t be ashamed about asking, either; it’s the job of a pharmacist to walk you through your options, and that includes financial ones.
8. Split Your Pills
The price of prescription medication isn’t always the same per unit. This means that paying $10 for one pill won’t always translate to paying $20 for a double dose of the same pill. Some people take advantage of this by asking their doctors for a higher dose of medication so that they can go home and split their pill in half, saving them money and doubling their order size in one fell swoop.
9. Look for Assistance Programs
Many pharmacies and drug manufacturers will have “patient assistance programs” where they help low-income individuals pay for their goods. If you think that you might qualify, contact their financial department and ask for details. The worst that they can do is say no, and you won’t lose anything by trying.
Use these nine tips if you’re ready to cut down on the cost of your medication. It doesn’t matter if you’re stocking up on nasal sprays for allergy season or just looking for a few painkillers to nurse you through an injury; as long as you’re careful about your purchase decisions, you can save your money for what really matters in life.