There are several ways to save money on health care, regardless the type of medical insurance you may have. Even if you don’t have any health insurance coverage, there are opportunities available to help lower your out of pocket expenses. From finding discounts on dental care to speaking with your doctor about less costly alternatives, doing a little research could lower the amount of money you spend on health care.
One health care expense that continues to rise each year are prescription drugs. For many people, living without their prescriptions is not an option. Instead of paying full price, it is important to explore the ways to cut these costs to make prescriptions more affordable.
Generics and Over the Counter Medications
The best way to save on prescriptions is to use generic or over the counter (OTC) medications as opposed to brand name drugs. While opting for generic medications can save a lot of money, they are not always available. Many of the newer drugs that are prescribed do not have generic options which leaves people with few low cost alternatives.
Even when generic brands are not available, there are still a few ways that you can save a little money on your medications. Regardless if you have a prescription plan through your employer, there are some steps you can take to reduce the costs of prescription medications.
4 Ways to Save
Here are 4 ways that may be able to put some money back in your wallet the next time you visit your local pharmacy.
1. Brand Name Coupons
If your prescription plan doesn’t cover a certain medication or if there are no generic options, start looking for coupons. Check the website of the drug manufacturer for any coupons or discounts on their medications. Yes, there are actually coupons available for some prescriptions in case you were wondering.
I was pleasantly surprised to find coupons for two brand name prescriptions that our family gets filled. One was for a $5 off coupon for an annual prescription just for signing up to the company’s email newsletter. The other was for $10 off coupon on a monthly prescription, where the manufacturer will allow you to print one coupon off every 30 days.
While these two prescriptions are still expensive to fill, we are at least able to save $125 per year now. When generics are not available, the next best thing is to start looking for a discount of some sort.
2. Transfer Your Prescription
Most national pharmacy’s offer store gift cards for transferring existing prescriptions or filling new ones with them. This can be a good way to put a little money back into your pocket if you don’t mind the minor hassle of switching pharmacy’s from time to time.
National chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Target typically offer these promotions. Last year my wife and I received $50 in these pharmacy related gift cards just by transferring prescriptions. This is another example of how you can offset a portion of the prescription cost when you have no other options.
3. Check Your Dosage
Speak with your doctor about the actual dosage of medication they are prescribing. Most prescription drugs have an expiration date in which they should be used by. In some cases, you may not need to use the entire dosage before it expires and can opt for a lower dosage that should be cheaper.
A perfect example is a fast acting inhaler used to treat asthmatic patients. I recently discovered that these inhalers come in several different dosage amounts, depending on what your doctor prescribes. Since these inhalers are usually only good for 1 year, a good portion of a 200 dose prescription may be wasted if you carry one of these for emergency use only.
For asthmatics who typically don’t go through 200 doses a year, there is a cheaper alternative 60 dose inhaler. While opting for a lower dosage will probably not work for most prescriptions, it never hurts to check with your pharmacist and doctor for cheaper options.
4. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
Take advantage of your flexible spending account (FSA) if your employer offers this benefit. Using an FSA is a way to budget for medical expenses while capitalizing on the tax-free advantages. Since most prescription drugs and many over the counter medications are eligible flexible spending account expenses, it makes sense to take advantage of this benefit if you have it.
If your company does not offer FSA benefits or you are self-employed, you won’t be able to take advantage of this money saving tip. However, you can still use some of other tips provided to help save money on your prescription drug expenses.
Spending just a few minutes doing a little planning and researching can save you lots of money on prescriptions. Just in the past few months my wife and I have saved a couple hundred dollars on prescriptions by asking questions of our family doctor and pharmacists, as well as researching any available coupons. In one case we found out a new generic drug had just became available which brought a $52 prescription down to $9! Add in the $125 in coupons savings, the $50 in store gift cards, and the tax savings of using our flexible spending account and our savings have really added up.
Whether you fill one prescription or have ten, there are a few ways to cut down on this expense. Even if you don’t have prescription coverage, you can lower the costs by doing a little research.
What other money saving techniques do you use on your prescriptions?
Photo by Casey Fleser.
Prescription drugs are usually effective past their due date. The only difference being that they might lose a little potency. I have rheumatoid arthritis and take a bunch of medications that I stock up on because of the high cost. I have never had an issue going beyond the expiration date and find it hard to believe every drug (besides the refrigerated ones) out there has only a one year shelf life, seems to me that the one year expiration date is just the drug makers way of putting more cash in their pockets. Keep your meds in a cool dry place and in most cases you will be fine.
Prescription drugs are the ideal way to use an FSA. The use-it-or-lose it rule scares many people away.
Many prescription drugs are taken routinely, which means you can confidently project these costs at the beginning of each plan year, and minimize the chance that you leave any money in the account.