In 2015, drug costs in the United States spiked upwards. People who don’t have prescription insurance coverage were hardest hit, suddenly being asked to pay anywhere from a few dollars to upwards of $100 more for a medication. This is causing some people to forgo their medication altogether.
To complicate matters, how much you pay for a medication can vary greatly depending on where you go to get your prescription filled. Although prices are negotiated with insurers, retailers charge “full” price to the non-insured. But sometimes, when a prescription is paid for through insurance, the buyer’s co-pay for the meds is actually higher than what they would pay without insurance.
There are ways to save money on prescription drugs. With a little digging, you can figure out your best options.
How to Spend Less On Prescribed Drugs
- Shop around
Before you get a prescription filled, call around to comparison shop. Although not all pharmacies are willing to give you the price over the phone, many will. This is especially important if you don’t have health insurance coverage, but it’s also good to know prices to see if your insurance co-pay is actually higher than what you’d pay without using your policy.
- Use local independent retailers
You may assume that the big chain drugstores have the best prices, but often this isn’t true. A recent Consumer Reports survey concludes that chains actually charge substantially more, with the exception of retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club.
- Ask about discounts
Although they’re not usually divulged up front, discounts are often available if you ask. Unfortunately, offers can change, so check back frequently. Some pharmacies routinely offer discounted prices for generics if you buy a 90-day supply.
- Buy online – carefully
Getting your prescriptions filled through mail-order companies can save you money on those drugs you use long term. Check with your insurance provider, which may contract with specific mail-order services. You can generally get a 90-day supply of a generic drug for a price that essentially lowers how much you’d pay for a 30-day supply. The convenience is also a plus. Be wary of online pharmacies that are actually based in other countries, including Canada; they may advertise extremely discounted prices while providing counterfeit products. Always make sure the site features a VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site) symbol.
- Don’t necessarily use your health insurance
There’s a chance that a 30-day supply of a generic may actually cost less than your co-pay, in which case it makes sense to pay without using insurance. But, remember that money spent without insurance doesn’t go toward your insurance deductible or out-of-pocket maximums.
If you’d like to explore your health insurance options, get free quotes from our quote generator and learn more about personal health care here.