From the Magazine

4 Smart Tips to Save on Your Prescriptions and Medical Costs

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It’s hard to avoid having to take medication or get prescriptions here and there, but staying healthy doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. These smart strategies will help you get everything you need to feel great for a whole lot less. 

Nab half-off meds with a pharmacy swap 

Surprise — pharmacies routinely charge different amounts for the same medicine! The upshot for you? Comparison shopping can save you big bucks, and thanks to free websites and apps like GoodRx or FamilyWize, it’s easy to find the best bargains. 

Simply search for your prescription to get a list of prices — for example, a popular cholesterol drug that costs $27 at Rite Aid might only cost $10 at Safeway. Using a generic? Ask the pharmacy about the out-of-pocket price — it’s sometimes cheaper to pay cash than your copay. 

Score 80 percent off supplies with a secondhand swap 

Injured your leg and need a cane? Instead of paying full price, ask your doctor if it’s okay to buy the equipment secondhand or refurbished. Then check eBay, Craigslist or Goodwill Home Medical, where you can find gently used items for up to 80 percent off the retail price. 

Also smart: Ask your employer if the company offers a flexible spending account, which lets you store money tax-free to use for out-of-pocket health costs like eyeglasses, saving up to 30 percent in the process! 

Save $100s on bills with an error check 

Up to 90 percent of medical bills contain errors that can cost you big! Luckily, you can spot them and side- step overpaying: Simply request an itemized version of your bill, which will include CPT (current procedural terminology) codes that doctors use to denote services. You can decode them by visiting the American Medical Association, where you can sign up for free to access a list of the codes. Errors to look for include double billing or charging for tests you didn’t receive. Then call your insurer to dispute any faulty fees. 

Cut drug costs by 30 percent with a bulk buy 

Simply purchasing a 90-day bulk supply of a prescription instead of doling out copays for the typical monthly refills can instantly save you 33 percent! 

Another option: Ask your doctor or pharmacist if your pills can be split, letting you buy fewer at a higher dosage. Thanks to a practice called “flat pricing,” pills cost basically the same regardless of potency. For example, a 30-day supply of Lipitor (40 milligrams) may cost $35.32, while the divided pills (80 milligrams) cost $36.10 and last 60 days.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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