It seems like almost every time I get together with other mothers, the topic of our country’s broken, expensive healthcare system seems to come up. Between the high cost of insurance premiums and copays, the ridiculous difficulty of finding a good doctor who will spend more than five minutes with a patient, and the exorbitant prices of some necessary prescription medications, it’s hard to afford to be healthy!
Luckily, my mom friends have learned a thing or two about how to cut costs while still keeping their families happy and in good health. And so when we finish our bitch-fest about Big Pharma and bad bedside manners, we get real and trade tips. Here are some of the best when it comes to saving big bucks at the pharmacy.
Ask About Paying Cash
A lot of people think that if you have insurance, it’s going to either eliminate or greatly reduce the cost of a prescription. That’s not always the case. It always is worth your while to ask the pharmacist what the insurance copay is, and what the out-of-pocket cost is. You might be surprised to learn that the latter is lower!
While you’re at it, be upfront with the pharmacy staff. Tell them you’d like to save as much money as you can, and ask what they recommend. There might be store-specific specials to check out, or they could steer you toward a particular discount card that has helped other customers slash their prescription costs.
Check Out Free Prescriptions
Yes, absolutely free, as in no cash, no check, no credit card needed! This one will depend on where you live, but look into grocery and department stores like Publix, Wegmans, Costco, and Target. Of course, not every prescription is free, but many common ones are (as are flu shots and some other vaccinations).
Why do the stores do this? It’s a loss leader, just like those BOGO cereal specials or 99-cent gallon of milk sales. If you come in for a free scrip, chances are good you’ll also pick up some laundry soap, a rotisserie chicken, or some ice cream bars.
When you have to pay for a supply of medication, don’t assume that it’s priced the same at pharmacies all over town. This is another shocker, I know! But it’s true. Pharmacies, both independent drugstores and chains, set their own prices for meds. So take the time to call around and comparison shop.
You can also compare the drugs your doctor prescribes with other, similar drugs. During your next visit, discuss cheaper alternatives with your doc to see if a different, but similar, med might work as well as what you’re currently taking. In most cases, medical professionals have little or no idea how expensive the drugs they prescribe even are!
“Just be sure you have done your homework in advance,” warns Indiana medical negligence lawyer Charles D. Hankey. “Prescription medication errors can be not only dangerous, but fatal. No cost savings is worth getting even sicker from taking the wrong pill.”
Sometimes a doctor will prescribe a larger dose that can be cut in half. It might cost the same amount as the smaller dose, or only a little more, but of course it will last twice as long, saving you money.
Going through a really rough month financially, or maybe your spouse just lost a job? Apply for prescription assistance. These programs are offered by nonprofit groups, state and local governments, and even the pharmaceutical companies themselves.
One nonprofit to try is called Needy Meds. Or just google “prescription assistance” and the name of the medication you take.
Usually there will be income requirements, or you may be able to get only a limited supply of the drug. But these programs can definitely help you out in a pinch!
There are resources out there to help struggling families with prescription medication costs. If none of these tips work for you, ask your friends and coworkers! We’ve all been through hard times, and giving each other a helping hand is what friendship is all about.
As always, if you have a super idea to share, please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear what works for you and your family.