Here we are 4 months into the year. Are you paying more for your prescriptions? I hear it from a lot of people, but I didn’t experience it until recently.
Did you know that nearly 7 in 10 Americans are on at least one prescription drug and more than half of Americans take two drugs. It’s a $326 billion (complicated) industry and growing – that breaks down to an average of $1,459 per person each year or $122 per month.
Due to increasing healthcare costs and the complexity of medications, many Americans are learning that their prescriptions are no longer covered or they’re forced to pay more out-of-pocket for the same prescriptions.
I wrote an article with ideas on how to save, but now I’m sharing two recent stories and how I did it…
#1 Prescriptions that are expensive
Last week, we had a little allergy issue in our home. I won’t say he looked bad, but my husband’s eyes looked slightly worse than the blood moon (while I thought it was funny, he did not appreciate me asking if he usually takes the red eye when he flies). Our family doctor prescribed an anti-histamine eye drop to help. When I went to pick it up (“ol’ red-eye” was confined to the house because he was scaring the public), the pharmacy assistant said, “You know this is a $240 prescription, right?” No, I did not and immediately shot back, “Um, is there a piece of gold in that bag?” He laughed. When I asked if that was my insurance price, he confirmed that it was and that the original price was $340. Sheesh!
I asked him to check if the price was better under my Prescription Discount on my freshbenies card. Nope, not this time.
Next, I asked if there was another, less expensive option. He called over the pharmacist who said there wasn’t a generic yet and suggested an over-the- counter option. Now, my husband was miserable, but not miserable enough to drop $240 on a prescription. So we opted for the $15 over-the-counter eye drop. What could it hurt? If it worked, we’d have saved a lot of money. If it didn’t, we were only out $15 extra and could go back for the $240 version.
Your doctor doesn’t know the cost of every medication. Your doctor doesn’t know your health insurance plan – what’s covered (or not) and to what extent. If you run across an expensive prescription, ask the pharmacist for other options before you buy. There may be a generic version, an over-the-counter option, a coupon the pharmacist can access, or another version of the prescription for which your insurance may subsidize more than the version your doctor originally prescribed.
#2 Prescriptions that aren’t covered
Without getting into all my medical issues (you’re welcome), I’ve had some weird tummy issues my doctor thought could be cleared up with a prescription strength super-probiotic. I didn’t know how much it would cost, and my doctor warned me my insurance might not cover it. When I got to the pharmacy, I was told it would be $75 for a bottle that would last a month.
I have a great prescription discount card that I threw on the counter and asked the pharmacist to try. They did and came back with a $30 savings – I paid $45. That’s $360 this year that I can add to my vacation fund!
Try a prescription discount card! You may not realize this, but drug companies negotiate pricing on every drug at every pharmacy, so there are different prices EVERYWHERE. As a result, prescription discount cards can end up being very handy because they offer a different option outside of your insurance. With the high-quality cards, you can search pricing before ever going to the pharmacy (by drug name, dosage, zip code, & store name) so you’ll get the best deal.
One note of caution: not all prescription discount cards are created equal! There are some that give weak discounts and at very few locations, so beware. Look for cards that offer 60,000+ locations and 35%+ average discount (most average only 15-18% discount). Read this article to learn more about how and why prescription discount cards work and this article to determine if a discount card can help you.
Now, it’s your turn to tell your story! What secret ninja techniques have you used to save on prescriptions?