Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Saving on prescription medicine

Fortunately, I am blessed both with good health and with health insurance. Hubby, however, has a few medications he takes every month. Even with insurance, the costs of these medicines can start to add up, so I use a variety of strategies to try to reduce the cost of these prescriptions over time.


If a medicine is not among the newest on the market, chances are there’s a generic version. With most health insurance, the difference is about $20 between a brand name and a generic. Without health insurance, it could be close to $100. Now, with Target and Walmart offering many generic drugs for $5, the distinction is greater than it’s ever been.

Generally, if there’s a generic available, your pharmacist will ask if that’s what you prefer. If not, talk to your doctor. Often they will prescribe the newest drug on the market because that’s what they think patients want. Sometimes there’s an older drug that will work as well for you.


For those drugs that we do buy brand name, I sign up for mailing lists from the drug companies for coupons and rebates. Do a google search for the name of the medicine you’re on, and chances are you will find the drug company’s website. Incentives can range from $5 to $25, to a voucher for free medicine. Keep on top of this, and remember to check prices. When one of our medicines went generic, it was cheaper to get it that way even with the $10 coupon off the brand name.

Gift card offers

Many national pharmacies (notably CVS, Target and Savon) offer gift cards for new or transferred prescriptions. If you have insurance, often the gift card amount can be greater than your copay, so you’ll actually be making money by doing this. If not, at least you are helping to offset the price of the drug. Look for the pharmacy coupons in weekly circulars, home mailers, and online. If you’re not on the pharmacy mailing list, figure out how to get on.

Some people like to transfer their prescriptions around regularly to maximize these deals, but I don’t recommend it. It’s important to have all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy, so the pharmacist can check for drug interactions.

Pharmacy Discount Cards?

I’ve never used one of these, but if you do a websearch, you will find about a hundred versions of this. They are cards you can purchase if you are uninsured that purport to give you a discount on many prescription drugs. If anyone knows more about them, please leave a comment.

Free Samples

When we got married, hubby was temporarily uninsured. Before he lost his insurance, he went to his doctor and explained and asked if they had any free samples available of the drugs he takes. The doctor called around to all the offices in the building and sent us home with a huge bag of sample packs that lasted us well past the one month. (By the way: I in no way endorse being uninsured if you can at all help it! If you are uninsured because of employment issues and not financial issues, go online and get yourself at least some major medical coverage. If you are young and it is temporary, you can get this very cheaply. It is downright terrifying to be without insurance.)

Drug companies load doctors down with this stuff. Whenever you get a new drug, and maybe even just periodically while you’re on one, ask your doctor if he or she has any free samples available. They’ll probably be more than glad to give you one.


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Anonymous said...

You asked about prescription discount cards. I found a VERY good one at www.rxdrugcard.com. They show drug prices on the website before you sign up. The generic prices are unbelievably low. The membership fee is only $4.50 a month. Check it out! -- Lily Waterhouse