Can you believe that the United States is the country with the highest prescription drug costs? Not only do Americans spend the most on medications every year, but they also struggle with price jumps that continually add to the burden.
At the least, rising drug costs make it harder to afford basic living expenses. At worst, they can mean the difference between life or death if people decide not to take important medications.
If you’re wondering how to save money on prescriptions, rest assured you have plenty of options to try. Even better, you can combine some of them!
Read on for seven ways to get cheaper and maybe even free medications.
1. Explore Free Medication Options
Did you know that retail chains like Meijer, Sam’s Club, Publix, and Winn-Dixie all offer certain medications at no cost? You won’t even need any insurance to take advantage of this program!
Free antibiotics like Amoxicillin and Penicillin are most common. But some places also offer vitamins, statins, Metformin, and antidepressants.
You can also possibly get free medications if your doctor’s willing to give you some samples. You’ll probably have better luck here if you’re testing some new medication than just refilling an existing prescription, though.
2. Avoid the Name Brand Version When Possible
In many cases, your doctor will find it acceptable to use a generic version of your medication that will cost considerably less than the branded option. In fact, popular pharmacy chains offer generics for as low as $4 for a 30-day supply or $10 for a 90-day supply!
You get such significant savings since you’re not paying for the name and marketing like you do with branded medications. At the same time, you shouldn’t notice any difference in how well the medication works since these medications go through extensive safety and effectiveness testing.
3. Compare Prices Before Heading to the Pharmacy
When you’re sick and in a rush, you might not feel like going online or calling pharmacies to see how prices differ. However, you can save a lot of money by simply using price comparison websites like RXSaver and GoodRx.
Along with comparing prices, these tools will show you pharmacies that offer low-cost or even free prescription programs. You might also get access to special coupons to show the pharmacist.
It’s also worth checking your insurance benefits to see if the insurance provider has an affiliation with a mail-order pharmacy that offers discounted supplies of medications. You can sometimes get a better deal than if you buy the medications in person.
4. Use Special Medical Savings Accounts
Does your employer offer you a health savings account or flexible spending account? If so, you have access to a somewhat indirect way to save money on prescription drugs.
These accounts involve having you regularly deposit pre-tax money for use paying medical expenses like doctor bills and medication costs. Since this money gets deducted from your income, you can potentially save hundreds in income taxes. This will leave you with extra money to more easily handle your drug costs.
For the best impact, use this strategy alongside taking advantage of discounted drug options and comparing prices.
5. Look Into Medication Discount Programs
Depending on the medication you take and where you live, you may qualify for a local or state prescription assistance program that gives you free or cheap medications. You can also find manufacturer-specific programs as well as drug discount cards online.
In any case, you will usually need to submit financial documentation showing you have a need that insurance won’t help with sufficiently. However, since insurance plans often require you to spend hundreds or thousands to meet the deductible, you may still qualify anyway for these programs.
Note that medication discount programs often have a time limit and require you to reapply to continue receiving the discounts. This means you may lose access if your income rises.
6. Consider Importing Your Medications from Canada
Shopping at online Canadian pharmacies can give you access to lower-cost prescriptions, so it’s worth it to find out more. You can find the same medications sold in the United States and have them shipped to your home for a low fee.
Just prepare to thoroughly research the Canadian pharmacy to ensure it offers legitimate services and will provide you with safe, effective medications.
The United States also has restrictions on importing prescription drugs that you’ll need to check out to avoid problems. For example, you might be allowed to buy up to three months of certain types of medications without facing legal issues.
7. Ask Your Doctor to Change Your Prescription
You might run into some cases where you can only take an expensive name-brand drug, can’t find any coupons, and don’t qualify for medication discount programs. If so, you can still potentially save on prescription costs.
A next step is to consult with your doctor about possibly taking an older version of a medication or switching to an alternative that has a generic version offered. Just be prepared that it might take several trials to find an affordable alternative drug that works for your health condition.
If you need to stay on the same medication, your doctor may be able to update the prescription’s dosage. This way, you might get pills with twice the milligrams and simply cut the pill for two separate doses. Your doctor will determine if this will safely work with your medication since there are exclusions.
Now You Know How to Save Money on Prescriptions
Don’t become one of the many Americans who have stopped taking their medications due to the expense. Begin researching the cost of prescriptions both online and at local pharmacies and taking advantage of any programs for which you’re eligible.
It doesn’t hurt to inform your doctor or pharmacist about your financial struggles either. They may be able to point you to discount options or alternative treatments that better fit your budget.
Now that you know how to save money on prescriptions, go read our other health and nutrition posts.