Prescription Drug Savings

No doubt you already realize that you’re often able to save on costly medications by asking your doctor for a prescription for generic equivalents.

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Here are five more ways you can save.

5 Ways to Save

Ask for free samples – Doctors are flooded with drug samples from drug manufacturers, but they don’t always distribute these samples to their patients. Ask, and you may get a week or more of a pricey drug for free. As a word of caution, though, you should check expiration dates and forego samples that have been sitting around the doctor’s office for too long.

Use mail order or the internet – When appropriate, buying prescriptions by mail or on the internet can be an economical, convenient way to purchase your medications. However, many mail-order pharmacies use non-pharmacists to fill prescriptions. While a pharmacist does do a final check, the volume of drugs being processed is very high and mistakes are possible.

Going the mail-order or internet route also means you lose the benefit of a face-to-face meeting with your pharmacist, who can warn you about drug interactions or answer your questions on the spot. The bottom line is this: If you want to use mail order or the internet, do so only with drugs you’re familiar with. Ideally, this means drugs you must take on a long-term basis. This way, you reduce your risk of taking the wrong drug or falling victim to unforeseen drug interactions.

Don’t let your insurance company impose limits on prescription length – If your doctor writes a prescription for a 90-day supply of pills, your insurer may approve only a 30-day supply. Limiting your prescription in this manner helps the insurer cut costs, but costs you money and extra tips to the drugstore.

If you need 90 days of pills but your insurer covers only 30 days, you should ask your doctor to substitute the instructions “take as directed” instead of “take once a day” on the prescription form. That makes it hard for the insurance company to calculate how many pills comprise a 30-day supply. You’ll be able to get the full 90-day supply filled. To be on the safe side, find out how often the drug should be taken, and write it yourself on the bottle.

Avoid time-release formulations – Many prescription drugs are available in both time-release and non-time-release forms. Time-release pills are much more convenient because they don’t have to be taken as often as their counterparts, but they’re also more costly.

Look into patient-assistance programs – Under such programs, offered by most pharmaceutical makers but rarely publicized, individuals short on cash because of job loss or another financial setback may qualify for free prescription medication. In the majority of cases, all that’s required is your doctor’s certifications that you are unable to afford a costly but necessary medication. You should call the manufacturer directly to find out if a particular drug is available through such a program, and what the terms are.

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