Tips for saving on prescription drugs

We regularly hear from people who can’t afford the high price of U.S. prescription drugs. Often we point those individuals to legitimate international online pharmacies. Many are able to find dramatic savings from Canadian and other international online pharmacies. But depending on the medication and their unique situation, importation may not be the right solution. That’s why we’ve compiled some tips and resources.

Please note: we aren’t endorsing the examples given here, we’re simply offering this information in hopes that it may be useful.

Tips for saving

  1. Don’t assume your insurance is getting you the best price. Negotiate with your pharmacy. Ask for the best available price and pay cash without using your insurance if it’s cheaper.
  2. Shop around. Call around to find the best price in your area, or use the apps listed below to help find the best price.
  3. Ask your doctor if you can get a higher dose of your medication and split your pills (only do this under a doctor’s advice).
  4. Ask for the generic version of the drug, it might be cheaper.

Corporate patient assistance programs (PAPs) are administered by drug companies and their related foundations. They help patients access free or reduced price medications. The eligibility for these programs varies widely. Typically, applicants must lack prescription drug coverage and/or meet stringent income guidelines.

Here’s a compilation of industry sponsored PAPs. Keep in mind that even if companies are offering a discount they have a financial interest in getting you to take their medication, particularly if it’s an expensive branded drug. Be sure that you talk to your doctor about potential generic drugs and consider the sustainability of the particular PAP in terms of paying for your medication in the long term.

NeedyMeds, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), and RxAssist are all good resources for finding PAPs. In addition to company-run PAPs, PPA and NeedyMeds have compiled lists of state assistance programs as well as information regarding disease or medication-specific programs.

For older adults, qualifying for a PAP may be more difficult since Medicare provides drug coverage. The National Council on Aging has a useful tool called “BenefitsCheckUp” that helps seniors determine if they qualify for help paying for prescriptions and other health care needs as well as utilities and food.

Free Prescription Drug Savings Cards:

The National Council on Aging offers the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, a free savings card that helps anyone, with or without insurance, get the best price for their prescriptions at participating pharmacies. It won’t help if prescription drugs are covered under your Medicare Part D program. But the card can provide savings on drugs that aren’t on your Part D plan formulary.

The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card is a free savings card that can help you save up to 80% off the price of your prescription medications.

It can’t be used in combination with Medicare Part D but can be used if you are in the donut hole.

Apps and websites to help you save:

WeRx is an app and website that allows consumers to compare prices on prescription drugs at pharmacies in their local area. They also have printable coupons.

GoodRx is an app and website that allows consumers to compare prices on prescription drugs at pharmacies in their local area. They also have printable coupons.

LowestMed is an app and website that helps consumers find the cheapest prescription drug prices in their area. You use their savings card to get the discount (either printed out or on your smartphone).

Blink Health is an app and website that promises savings of up to 90 percent on generic drugs. You pay for your prescription online and pick it up at a participating local pharmacy.

Additional resources

The Assistance Fund offers help with co-pays, premiums and basic healthcare needs for children and adults diagnosed with critical or chronic illnesses.

Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs is also a good resource for finding information about how to cut costs on prescription drugs. Their website offers a number of good, money-saving guides.

Have you used any of these methods to help pay for your prescriptions? Do you have additional resources to share? If so, please comment below.


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