The Consumer Reports National Research Center has come out with a new study on Americans and their prescription drugs, and the results can only be termed frightening. If you are managing a chronic condition, you already know how expensive prescription drugs can be, so it’s not surprise that Americans have started economizing in taking their prescription drugs.
What is surprising and frightening is how they’re economizing because some of the ways they’re trying to save money are downright dangerous. Here are the stats from Consumer Reports:
Overall, 27 percent failed to take a drug as prescribed, for example, by not getting a prescription filled (16 percent), taking an expired medication (12 percent), or sharing a prescription with someone else to save money (4 percent).
Another 8 percent said they had split prescription pills in half in order to save money.
Needless to say, none of these methods are safe ways to be taking or not taking your prescription drugs, so before you resort to one of these risky tactics, we want to remind you about some safe ways that you can continue taking your prescription drugs and save money:
• Show your Formulary to your Doctor. The formulary is the list of drugs covered by your health insurance and the copays required by the different drugs. Formularies vary from plan to plan, so show your doctors your formulary when they prescribes you drugs so they can consider the costs of different drugs as they prescribe.
• Buy Generic Prescription Drugs. Ask your doctor whether there is a generic or less-expensive equivalent which may be available. Generic prescription drugs are the legal copies of brand-name drugs whose patents have expired, and are virtually always a small fraction of the price of the original brand-name. If a generic is available check your local superstore to see if they carry it. A number of superstores have started carrying some generics at very low prices. Target and Wal-Mart offer a 30-day supply of generics for $4 or a 90-day supply for $10; Costco charges $10 for 100 pills for most generics; and Kmart charges $10 or $15 for 90 days’ worth.
• Shop Around. The prescription drug prices can vary widely, even within the same geographic area. If you have a drug plan, your co-pay should stay the same regardless of the pharmacy. However, it you are paying cash, there can be big price differences even among same chain drug stores within a few miles. If you call around, you may be surprised that even among your neighborhood pharmacies; the cost of your prescription may vary by anywhere from 15% to as much as 100%. If you have a chronic condition, online or mail order sources are usually much cheaper than neighborhood pharmacies. DestinationRx.com can be a good online resource for shopping around for prescription drug prices in your neighborhood.
• Tell your Physician if You Can’t Afford a Prescription Drug. Absolutely tell your physician if you cannot afford a drug they are prescribing. He or she may know of lower-cost treatment alternatives that may be available. If lower-cost alternatives are not available, your physician can at least make you aware of the risks of discontinuing treatment. Even if you cannot afford your full drug regimen, your doctor may still advise you that there may still be one or two low-cost drugs important to your treatment. Many pharmaceutical companies also offer patients certain medications at reduced prices or free through patient assistance programs. Be sure to look into that option as well if you are having difficulty paying for your medications.
• Ask your Pharmacist if you can Split your Pills. In some cases, a stronger pill may be available for the same co-pay as what you’re paying now for your prescription drugs. If so, ask your pharmacist if the pill is suitable for splitting. Not all prescription drugs are suitable for splitting (like time release pills), but if yours are, you may be able to split the pills in half and save half the copay. Again, you should ask your pharmacist before you start pill-splitting. If you are able to split your pills, make sure to invest in a pill-splitter so you get an accurate split.
• Stock Up. If you have a chronic condition, buying larger quantities (such as a three-month supply at a time instead of a one–month supply) is almost always cheaper.
• See if a Prescription Drug Coupon is Available. Some pharmaceutical companies offer coupons for the drugs they offer. The amounts and conditions of coupons vary, but some can be quite substantial. http://www.internetdrugcoupons.com/ is a good resource on what coupons may be currently available.
How are you saving on your prescription drugs? Tell us about it!
- Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) Releases List of Prescription Drugs Ordered Most Often by Americans
- Tips: How to Save On Your Prescription Drugs
- Link of the Day: The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), a Resource for Free and Low-Cost Prescription Drugs
- Help is On the Way: Patient Assistance Programs and How They Can Help You With Your Prescription Drugs
- Reminder: $4 Generic Prescription Drugs Are Available Without Health Insurance