Five Ways to Save Money at the Pharmacy
by Benjamin Hanlon
For most people the pharmacy is a dreaded place to be. You wait in long lines only to find that your medication isn’t ready or covered by your insurance. Being at the pharmacy means you’re likely either sick or in pain, and having to spend money because of it, makes it hardly an enjoyable place to be.
It’s a frustrating experience many times for not only the patients but for the pharmacists as well. I should know; I am one.
While prescriptions can be very expensive, sometimes to the point where people simply cannot afford them, there are steps you can take to save significantly at the pharmacy. I see the same mistakes made by patients and consumers on a daily basis.
If they knew about more budget health ideas, they could save hundreds even thousands of dollars. Below are my top 5 ways in which you can save money on your medications.
#1 Always Buy Generic Drugs
There is a big misconception among the general public and generic medications. It seems many people associate generic with “less quality” or “inferior” when it comes to drugs and other things alike. The truth of the matter is that generic medications have to go through a stringent process with the FDA that proves they are equivalent to the brand name product in effectiveness and safety.
Generic Drugs are the same exact drugs as their brand name counterparts. The FDA reports that generic medications are on average 80 to 85% cheaper than brand name drugs. The reason for this is because once the patent on a drug expires for the brand name company that invented the drug, it opens the flood gates for other drug companies to produce generic equivalents.
Because these companies don’t have to spend the time and money on research and clinical trials like the innovator company did, they can afford to offer the drugs at a much cheaper price. Not every drug has a generic equivalent, but you should certainly always be asking your pharmacist if there is a generic version available.
#2 Pay Out of Pocket
Yes, you read that right. Believe it or not paying out of pocket is many times cheaper than paying your fixed co-pay on prescriptions. Of course this all depends on your insurance, but regardless most people just pay whatever the pharmacy says their total is. But you should remember that you always have options.
I see it every day, people paying a $15 or $20 co-pay on a medication that would be only a few dollars had they just paid out of pocket and not used their insurance. With the abundance and competition of drug companies manufacturing generic drugs, you should always be asking your pharmacy what the out of pocket price is before using your insurance. From there the decision is quite easy.
#3 Free Is Always Cheaper
Next time when you are at your doctor’s office ready to get a prescription, ask your doctor if she has any samples. Physicians are bombarded on a daily basis by drug reps pushing their samples on them. Most doctors have a closet full of samples in which they forget about but are happy to get rid of.
While you’re at it ask them if they have any samples for any other medications that you take, it doesn’t hurt to ask and the savings can add up quickly. Note that only physicians can legally give out samples. Asking your local pharmacy for them is not only illegal but a waste of your time. No pharmacy is going to give away drugs for free, nor are they going to sell any drugs without a prescription.
#4 Check For Rebates
Most consumers have no idea about the amount of rebates that are available to them. The most of which are on brand name drugs that are fairly new as drug companies use rebates as a marketing tactic to get the drug known. The problem is they don’t do a very good job of informing the public on rebates that are available.
If you see a commercial for a drug, there will most likely be a rebate for it. The best way to check and see if a rebate is available for a drug is to simply visit the website of the drug company that manufacturers the drug. Almost every company will have a section on their site that has rebate and coupon offers. Not enough people take advantage of this money saving resource.
#5 The Best Cure For Any Illness Is Prevention
Avoiding the need to use the pharmacy in the first place is going to be your best cost saving tactic that you can use. I can’t stress enough how important it is to take a proactive approach to your health and wellness.
What most people think is prevention is actually secondary prevention. You’ve had a heart attack and are now trying to prevent another one, when really you should have been preventing the first one before it happened.
Utilize natural supplements, exercise and healthy eating to optimize your health and put yourself in position to best prevent illness before it occurs. Prescription medicines will sometimes be needed but I believe you should look at them as sort of a last resort to natural treatment and prevention.
Prescription drugs come with adverse side effects and high insurance bills and should be avoided if possible. Waiting until you have symptoms of disease to begin thinking about getting healthy is the wrong approach to wellness. Utilize prevention methods to cut medication costs out of your budget and if needed, use the tips outlined in this article to help you save at the pharmacy.
(Benjamin Hanlon is a practicing pharmacy professional and owner of his own health and wellness website. He writes on all topics of health including mind, body and spirit with an emphasis on the importance of a preventative lifestyle. He is the author of his own eBook, “Confessions Of A Pharmacist” and has over 10 years of experience in the health and wellness industry.)