With my children’s ongoing health problems, some days my kitchen counter looks like a pharmacy. And I know first hand, that prescription medication is not cheap! In fact, medicine is downright expensive. Here’s a few tips that I’ve used over the years, and continue to use, to save money on prescription medication. Next time you get prescribed a new medication, research your different options so you get the best price on your medicine.
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Many doctors’ offices receive samples of prescription medication from drug reps, so I always ask the doctor or nurse if they have samples available. This is great way to try a new medication to see if it works without investing money into something that may not work.
Generic versions of prescription medications are much less expensive than name brand versions, and in most cases generic medicines work just as well as their name-brand counterpart. The only medication that I’ve insisted on being name-brand was for Mallory’s epilepsy, as the generic version did not work for her.
Ask your pharmacy if they have a list of “$4 prescriptions” (most do, including Walmart and Target). If you are taking one of the drugs listed as $4, and they are charging you more because they ran it through your insurance, ask the pharmacy not to run that script through your insurance and give you the “cash price”.
Google the brand name of the medication you were prescribed or simply type in the name of your medicine with “.com” at the end in your browser. Some pharmaceutical companies offer savings cards and/or patient assistance programs.
Savings or voucher cards usually allow you to get your medication for a reduced cost (or even free) and can be used with some insurances. For instance, Macy was prescribed Xifaxan for irritable bowel syndrome that cost over $1200. Even after insurance, we were still to pay $200. So I went to Xifaxan.com and found an “Instant Savings Card” to download that allowed us to get the medication for $0 – yes, it was free!
Be sure to read the fine print though as one savings card for another one of Macy’s medication boasted “pay no more than $10”. After the pharmacy had told us that the medication would be $400 (gasp), I was thrilled to find the $10 offer. But after giving that to the pharmacy, they told us that we still owed $300! The “fine print” states that the discount is only up to $100 off. So I asked Macy’s doctor if they had any samples, and she gave us two months worth of medication saving us over $600.
Patient Assistance Programs
Patient Assistance Propgrams (sometimes abbreviated as PAPs) are for those that cannot afford their medications but do not qualify for government assistance (i.e Medicare and/or Medicaid). You usually need to download some forms from the pharmaceutical company that manufacturers the medication you are requesting, fill out the forms with your household information, and then give the forms to the prescribing doctor’s office to fill out their portion along with your proof of income (either copies of your current paystubs or income tax returns). The medicine will then likely be delivered directly to your doctor’s office to dispense to you as needed.
GoodRx.com is a free website that compare prices of pharmacies in your area and offers their own free coupons to make the prices even lower. Example: I take Ambien to help me sleep at night. In January, I was on a one-month waiting period for new health insurance, so didn’t have any coverage. The generic version would’ve cost me $80 at HyVee, but after I downloaded the coupon from GoodRx, my price was only $8.38!
Keep reading though as I found an even better way to save on Ambien…
SearchRx.com also allows you to search prescription drug prices at more than 62,000 participating pharmacies. That way you can compare which pharmacy in your area has the best price on the medications that you need to save yourself up to 75%. SearchRx is free to use and no signup is required to use it. Download SearchRx via iTunes and/or Google Play.
Blink Health may be my new BFF (as of this writing anyway). It works like the above two sites, but it takes the savings one step further to save you even more money. Again, you search for your medication, and then you actually pay for the medication online, but pick it up at your local pharmacy. I was able to get my generic Ambien (zolpidem tartrate) for only $1.58!
The Blink price was $6.58 (lower than GoodRx even), but since I was a new customer, I received $5 off my order (now they are offering $15 off) making my total a whooping $1.58! After I paid online, I printed out the receipt/savings card to give the pharmacy (they then run that as your primary payor that makes your copay $0), and I paid nothing at the pharmacy when I picked up my pharmeceutical order.
Blink Health is now offering $15 off your first order which may make your medication free! If you take any of the following medications, you can get your first month free at virtually any pharmacy since they are priced at under $15:
- Ambien (Zolpidem)
- Prinivil (Lisinopril)
- Lipitor (Atorvastatin)
- Zocor (Simvastatin)
- Zoloft (Sertraline)
- Xanax (Alprazolam)
- Prilosec (Omeprazole)
- See how much your medication is!
Some insurance companies will give you a discount if you get a 90 day supply of medication at a time instead of the customary 30 day supply. You may need to send the prescription into a mail-order pharmacy to process, but the savings may be worth the stamp.
Express Scripts used to offer a 3 month supply for the price of 2 months, so it was basically a BOGO offer – buy two months, get one month free.
I personally have never ordered or bought medications from another country, so I can’t vouch on the validity or legality of it, but after Googling such, I don’t recommend it.
I’ve heard stories of friends stocking up on cheap antibiotics while visiting Mexico, so when my mom and I visited Mexico, we stopped in a pharmacy and asked some questions. They said you do need a prescription, but there is a doctor next door, and seeing the doctor was free! We did not see the doctor or investigate any further.
Advantages / Disadvantages
Depending on your pharmacy and how they file the claims, if you use a savings card or discount offer, your purchase may not go towards your deductible. If the pharmacy processes your insurance as primary and the savings card or discount offer as your secondary insurance, the cost should go towards your deductible, which if you have a high deductible or HSA plan, you’ll appreciate this. Pharmacies may argue that you didn’t actually pay the full price, so you shouldn’t get credit towards your deductible for it, but then you don’t get credit for any amount.
How do you save money on prescription medication?