How can I Save Money on Prescription Drugs?

Diana Bocco

If you take prescription drugs on a regular basis, you know that prices for some medicines have increased noticeably over the past few years. In fact, prescription drugs suffered an 8.4 percent price increase in 2006 alone. Unless you have full prescription coverage, chances are high that part of the total price for your prescriptions is coming out of your pocket. If that is the case, and you find yourself tight for money when it's time to visit the pharmacy, here are some tips on how you can reduce your final expenses for prescription drugs.

Some insurance plans offer discounts on drug costs.
Some insurance plans offer discounts on drug costs.

Always shop around. Different chain drugstores have different prices for medicine, but the prices can also vary according to location. Don't assume that because a pharmacy sells cheaper products it will also sell cheaper prescription drugs. That is not always the case, so it doesn't hurt to do your research. Always ask for discounts. Many pharmacies offer a reduction in price to members of the AARP or other organizations. Take any membership card you have with you when you go comparison-shopping.

Some prescription medications have generic versions that cost less.
Some prescription medications have generic versions that cost less.

Ask your doctor for generic prescription drugs rather than accepting the first brand name he suggests. Basic drug composition is usually the same in brand-name and generic prescription drugs, but the price tag is quite different. If you take more than one medicine, ask your doctor whether there is a different pill that can combine the effect of two or more of your prescription drugs. Not only will it be cheaper to buy a single medicine, but also easier to take and remember.

A pharmacist mixes and dispenses prescription drugs.
A pharmacist mixes and dispenses prescription drugs.

Consider alternative sources when buying prescription drugs. Online pharmacies are sometimes much cheaper than their retail equivalent, and many work directly with doctors to request and confirm prescriptions. Some mail order programs offer subscriptions to people taking the same prescription drugs over a long period of time. Canadian pharmacies offer much lower prices on most prescription drugs, so it might make sense to shop there, either by driving up or by logging on to the Internet. Check the laws of your particular state or country about bringing medications into the country.

Some drug manufacturers issue coupons for their products.
Some drug manufacturers issue coupons for their products.

Finally, ask your pharmacist about the possibility of buying a larger dose of the drug you are taking and then splitting the pills in halves. This is not possible with all drugs, as some have a special coating that shouldn't be broken, or contain time-released ingredients, but it could mean substantial savings if it works.

Generic prescriptions are generally cheaper than their name-brand counterpart.
Generic prescriptions are generally cheaper than their name-brand counterpart.
Always shop around, and ask your doctor for generic versions of the drugs you require.
Always shop around, and ask your doctor for generic versions of the drugs you require.

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