Alec Smith, a 26-year old American man, suffered a tragic death on June 27, 2017. He was killed by the U.S. healthcare system. Alec couldn’t afford the $1300 per month cost of the insulin he needed to keep him alive. He went into a diabetic coma and never woke up.
Sadly, Alec’s situation isn’t at all unusual. Millions of Americans can’t afford their medications. The price of drugs is higher in the U.S. than any other country in the world forcing many people to simply go without their medications.
Pharmaceutical companies would like to have you think the reason the cost of medications is so high is the amount of money they pour into research and development. Well, guess what? According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, the pharmaceutical industry spends TWICE AS MUCH on marketing to doctors than it does on research and development.
Until lawmakers decide to regulate the prices of drugs and ensure all Americans can afford their medications, we have to fend for ourselves.
Here are 7 tips to help you save money on your medications.
1. Ask Your Provider to Prescribe Generics When Possible
My dad’s doctor prescribed him a brand-name drug that cost hundreds of dollars per month. When he went to pick it up, he was shocked at the price. He asked his pharmacist if there was a less expensive option. Turns out, there was. The generic version was priced at just a few bucks a month.
Generic medications are less expensive than their brand name counterparts. Always ask your provider to prescribe generics whenever possible. Many insurance companies won’t pay for brand name medications if there is a generic equivalent.
2. Shop Around
It pays to shop around. Use GoodRx to compare the prices of your medications at different pharmacies. You’ll be surprised at how much the costs can differ from one place to the next.
And whether you love them or hate them, Walmart’s prices on generic drugs are some of the best in the country. You can usually get a 30-day prescription for around $4. Costco pharmacies typically offer much lower prices, too.
3. Ask for Higher Dose Tablets
A 30-day prescription for thirty, 20-mg pills would likely cost you the same as it would for thirty, 40-mg tablets. Ask your provider if it’s possible, and safe, to get your medications as ‘double-dose’ so you can split them in half.
NEVER split pills without talking to your provider and pharmacist. For safety reasons, some medications can never be cut or crushed.
4. Plan a Trip to Mexico
Or Canada. Or Australia. In some cases, the flights may be cheaper than the cost of your medications in the U.S.
Believe it or not, tens of millions of Americans go outside of America every year for their medications.
Just be aware, it’s not technically legal to bring foreign medications back across the border. Fortunately, no one has ever been prosecuted for doing it. Also, keep in mind that the FDA doesn’t ensure the safety of drugs purchased abroad. (But they also don’t regulate drug prices in the U.S. which forces millions of Americans to seek alternative ways to purchase life-saving medications).
5. Check Out International Online Pharmacies
If you aren’t ready to travel to another country to buy your medications, consider international online pharmacies. You can find accredited ones at PharmacyChecker.com.
Again, the FDA can’t ensure the safety of drugs purchased abroad blah blah blah.
6. Look For Prescription Assistance Programs
You may be eligible for help through prescription assistance programs. Here are a few to consider:
- State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs
- Partnership for Prescription Assistance
- Medicare Extra Help Program
You can also contact drug manufacturers directly to see if they’re offering any discounts or assistance programs.
7. Get a Prescription Savings Card
InsideRx is a website where you can get a free prescription savings card that may help you save money on your medications. You can print it, email or text it to yourself or download it to your mobile wallet. The card is accepted at more than 40,000 pharmacies across the United States. InsideRx also has a price comparison tool so you’ll know which pharmacies offer the best prices on your medications.
Just be aware, the savings card can’t be used in conjunction with your health insurance. Check to see which is the better deal (running the cost through your insurance vs paying cash and applying the InsideRx card).
It’s not right that Americans are dying because they can’t afford their medications. If you have a minute, write to your elected officials and let them know you demand fair and transparent pricing when it comes to your healthcare. Find your representative at USA.gov.
I hope these tips will help you save money on your medications!
Have a question for me? Or just want to share your experiences with the healthcare system? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d love to hear from you!