Published March 25th, 2020 by Stephanie
Medicine can get expensive, but this isn’t much of an issue in the short term. If you’re only on medication to get over a temporary illness like pneumonia, or the flu, then once you’ve recovered, you can stop buying and taking medication. But for some Americans, medication isn’t a temporary need, but a long term, sometimes even a lifelong one. People that have permanent conditions, such as diabetes, or have been diagnosed with a recurring condition, such as chronic depression, need regular access to prescription drugs, and over the years, that expenditure can quickly add up.
Fortunately, there are ways for people to save money on prescription drugs if they need to be smart and strategic with their savings. We have six tips for people to follow that can help with different medication situations. See which one works for you.
This tip is quite surprising and applies mostly to people that already have health insurance. If you have a health insurance policy with a co-pay mechanism that subsidizes your purchase, don’t assume that taking advantage of it will make your purchase cheaper! In some cases, pharmacies work closely with health insurance providers to raise the price of drugs once they know that copay is involved. If you’re already with a health insurance policy, try asking what the price of medication will be
if you pay in cash instead of defaulting to your copay option. You may be surprised to find that paying out of pocket for the medication might be cheaper than if you’d used the benefits of your copay policy. Research this across your different medication needs.
It’s the old truism of business. The more you buy, the more you can potentially save. Many Americans are already familiar with the benefits of buying in bulk from specialized retailers like Costco, which offer lower prices on people who are willing to buy goods in larger amounts.
The same applies to buying medication. If you’re in a situation where you know you will need to buy a large amount of medication for use, try buying it in bulk. You may find that purchasing drugs in larger amounts applies a “bulk discount” that allows you savings on the individual units. Not everyone can afford to buy in bulk, but if you have this option, it’s a great way to save. So, for example, instead of buying enough medication for a 30-day prescription, try buying enough for 90 days. It saves money and means you don’t have to renew the prescription as frequently.
For some people, financial peace of mind is nearly impossible with the ongoing expense of medication. This solution largely depends on location, but if you live in a state and municipality where financial assistance is available, see if you qualify.
For people that are having trouble making ends meet, programs exist for special allowances on purchasing medication, especially if that medication is for children. Generally, people qualify for this type of financial assistance if they fall below a certain income level, or meet other criteria. Sometimes this type of financial aid can be the difference between a family suffering from illness, or managing to cope.
A pharmaceutical company that creates a new medication has a patent on that medication. This means, in practical terms, that they enjoy a limited monopoly on that medicine, and can charge as much as they like without fear of competition. However, that patent does eventually expire, and when it does, other pharmaceutical companies are free to use the same formulation and produce their own version of that medicine.
This is what happened with common, off-the-shelf medications like acetylsalicylic acid or “Aspirin,” and Ibuprofen, or “Brufen.” Once the market opened up, different companies produced generic versions of these medications. They use the same formulation and have the same effectiveness, but cost less, because they aren’t sold under the same more popular brand name. Buying generic medication often saves a lot of money.
This is easier than ever to do. Different pharmacies charge different prices for their medication, so it’s possible to find the same medication at a much lower price if you’re willing to shop elsewhere. In the past, this was a very time and labor-intensive practice, so while it yielded good results, it meant doing a lot of homework and legwork, such as calling or visiting different pharmacies and asking them about their prices.
Today, there are apps available on your smartphone that compile and update this data. These are convenient and centralized, though it’s always a good idea to use more than one app, as not every medication or pharmacy may be covered by the same app. One app that launched in September of 2019 is USARx’s own free mobile app. It provides you with the ability to search, view, and compare prescription drug prices at leading discount pharmacies in your neighborhood. It puts the savings in the palm of your hand.
One of the best ways to save money on prescription drugs is to get a discount card like the one offered by USA Rx website. As the name suggests, a discount card can be presented to a pharmacist at the time of purchase. If that pharmacist is affiliated with the program the card belongs to, then a price reduction is applied to the final purchase price.
The Rx card is a good choice for many reasons. It’s free, unlike the Walgreens discount card, which requires an annual membership fee to be paid to use. And unlike the Walmart and Walgreens discount cards, it is recognized at over 60,000 outlets in all 50 states, from large chain retailers like Target to smaller owner-operated pharmacies that may be just around the corner. To use this discount card, it’s a simple matter of going online, signing up, and then either printing out the card, or keeping the digital image on your phone to show at the time of purchase.
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