Everything you need to know about how to save money on your prescription medication! Here are all the tricks that I learned the 11 years I worked as a pharmacy technician.
This post was written in partnership with SingleCare. All opinions are my own.
**ALWAYS check with your doctor before making any alterations to your medications.**
Something that you probably don’t know about me is that back when I was young and carefree (in other words, before I was a mom), I worked as a certified pharmacy technician for 11 years. Because I almost always worked at high volume pharmacies, the job was often stressful and a bit crazy. But I loved it and actually still sometimes miss it!
Want to guess what one of my favorite parts of my job as a pharmacy tech was? It probably won’t surprise you that it was figuring out ways to save people money on their prescription medications! Now, if you take any prescriptions whatsoever, you know that prescription drugs can really be a big drain on your bank account- even if you have insurance. The thing is, there are often relatively easy ways to save money on your prescriptions, but of course, you have to know how.
That’s why I’m sharing the money saving “tricks of the trade” that I learned as a pharmacy technician with you. Use these tips that I used and recommended regularly to my customers to see if you can save money on your prescription medications too!
How to Save Money on Prescription Medication- everything you need to know!
Use Generic Medication Where Possible
Generic medications are almost always way cheaper than their brand equivalent, so it only makes sense to use generic when you can! Worried that the generic won’t be as effective? Here’s the thing. The actual drug is the same in both the generic and brand medication so the only thing that is different is the “filler” product. Ninety-nine percent of the time people can use the generic medication and it will work just as well for them. So, assuming your doctor okays it, I suggest that you always fill your prescriptions with the generic medication.
Ask for a Less Expensive Alternative (whether you have insurance or not)
If you have insurance, your insurance company decides which prescription medications they will cover and for what price. Each insurer has a list of preferred and non-preferred drugs that they cover. The list of preferred drugs is called their formulary and is always the cheaper option for you. The list of non-preferred are called non-formulary and will cost you much more.
This simply means that there are often several drugs used for the same thing (for example, blood pressure or cholesterol) that will vary in cost. So if you go to the pharmacy and your co-pay is $60 and you usually only pay $20 for a prescription, ask the pharmacy technician if there is an alternative that may be cheaper. Or you could even call your insurer and ask them what other drugs in that category are covered for $20. Once you know your alternatives, you can talk to your doctor to see if there is the possibility of switching to the less expensive medication. Sometimes your doctor will decide that it’s best to stick with the more expensive medication, but many times they are more than happy to make the switch to help you save money!
Ask Your Doctor for Drug Coupons, Vouchers, and Free Samples
Drug reps are constantly trying to gain sales for their company and as part of that they drop off vouchers, coupons and samples at doctor’s offices. The thing is, often the doctors forget they have them. So, if the doctor is writing you a prescription, simply ask if he has free samples or coupons for that drug. The worst thing that can happen is that you will be told no!
Check with the Drug Manufacturer for Savings Programs and Coupons/Vouchers
If you take a brand name medication, especially if there is no generic alternative, call the manufacturer and ask if they have any patient assistance programs or can give you any coupons or savings vouchers. Nine times out of ten they’ll be able to at least offer you a one-time savings coupon, most of which are good even if you do have insurance.
A couple of years ago I was checking to see what kind of savings I could get for a friend who takes Carbatrol, a seizure medication. Because she didn’t have health insurance, she typically spent several thousand a year on this drug. I was excited to discover that Shire, the company that makes Carbatrol, had a program available that covered the entire cost of the drug for my friend!
Use a Discount Savings Program
Don’t have insurance? It’s worth checking into discount savings programs. These programs are free to join and can be an easy way to save on prescription medications.
One prescription discount savings program that I’m excited to try out is SingleCare. SingleCare is accepted at over 35,000 pharmacies nationwide, including Walmart, Target, Kroger, Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS, and offers savings of up to 80% on 50,000 prescription medications! I love that you can go to the SingleCare website or download their free app on Google Play or Itunes to check ahead of time to see what your prescription will cost and which pharmacy will be the cheapest for you. No more surprises at the checkout!
To start saving, all you need to do is request your free SingleCare prescription savings card and then use it the next time you need to fill a prescription.
SingleCare also offers savings on dental, vision and on-demand virtual doctor visits too, which means you can get even more benefits with just one discount card!
Try Splitting Your Pills
One of the “old fashioned” ways to save is to get a higher dose of your medication and then splitting it to get the dosage you need. The savings here comes from the fact that you can get fewer pills for your dosage.
For example, say you take 10mg. of Zocor daily. By having your doctor prescribe you the 20 mg. Zocor instead, you could simply split the pills and take half a pill daily, getting you the 10 mg. dosage for less money.
This will only work for some medications though (some medications will actually not work properly if you cut them!), so of course you always need to consult with your doctor to figure out if this is a good, safe way for you to save money.
Find Out if a 90 Day Supply Will Save You Money
Not all insurances allow you to get more than one month’s worth of medication at a time, but it’s worth checking into! Because many times, your cost for a 3 month supply will be less than it would cost you if you bought the same medication monthly. In fact, some insurance companies will actually allow you to get three months’ worth of medication for the price of two! And if you don’t have insurance, this is often a great way to save a bit of money, because generally the more medication you get at a time, the cheaper it is per pill/unit.
If You Don’t Have Insurance, Shop Around
Prescription drug prices vary greatly from pharmacy to pharmacy and from medication to medication. Just because your usual pharmacy is the cheapest around on the blood pressure medication you take, does not mean it will be cheaper on the asthma medication the doctor just prescribed you. It pays to call around and ask for prices before you fill your prescription!
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you use multiple pharmacies, it is VERY important that you keep a list of all the medications that you currently take with you and show it to the pharmacist every time you get a prescription filled. This is the only way they will be able to catch any potentially harmful drug interactions.
Ask if Your Pharmacy Price Matches
This one is for those of you that don’t have insurance. If you do find another pharmacy that charges less for your medication, check to see if your usual drug store will price match the cost for you. Many pharmacies are happy to do this just to keep your business with them!
How do you save money on prescriptions? Please feel free to leave a comment!
Disclaimer: All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.
I found it helpful when you said that generic medications are way cheaper than the branded ones. My husband and I are planning to find a pharmacy where we can purchase prescription medications for her 55-year old mother’s hypertension. Our main priority is the budget since we also have other expenses to consider such as tuition fees, so we will do your tips.
Glad that it was helpful, Shammy! And I hope you can find a medication that is helpful without needing to pay a lot.
I never knew that there were so many discount programs for people to use when shopping for prescriptions. My son needs a specific allergy medication but we are really tight in the fund’s department lately. I’ll keep your tips in mind so that we can get his medication without breaking the bank.
I hope it helps you save! I know how pricy some of those medications can be.
I just checked out goodrx.com. Dropped my monthly seizure prescription down almost $200! Definitely worth it!
Wow, that’s some impressive savings! Thanks for the recommendation.
I never knew that these kind of things exist too, I mean discount coupon on medicines. Wow! You save me a lot of money. Thanks!
Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that most people don’t know about most of these things, partly because many healthcare providers/pharmacists don’t take the time to tell people about them! 🙁
Mary Ann Mast
My doctor has been a big help with the tips you posted. I have found Costco pharmacy to be my place to go as when I have done price checking they normally are the cheapest. We don’t have insurance for prescription and they offer better pricing if you don’t have it.
That’s great that you have a doctor that cares about helping you figure out ways to save on prescriptions- that’s kind of rare from my experience! And thanks for the tip about Costo pricing. Always helpful to know!