Money

These Easy Tips Can Save You a Ton of Cash on Prescriptions

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Prescription drugs cost the average American $1,200 per year — and the prices are climbing! But you can lower your Rx bill significantly with these simple tips.

Pick this pharmacy.

When paying for a prescription without health insurance, get it filled at the online pharmacy HealthWarehouse.com or in person at an independent pharmacy, like Costco or Sam’s Club. These all nabbed top spots for the lowest prescription drug prices in a recent Consumer Reports study, saving patients over $100 per Rx compared to other drugstores. (P.S. You don’t need to be a member of warehouse clubs to get your prescriptions filled.) To save even more: Get coupons from GoodRx.com — they cut your bill by up to 80 percent.

Trim costs here.

When using health insurance to help pay for prescriptions, visit your insurer’s website or call their customer service number to get their list of “preferred pharmacies.” These are drugstores that have agreed to sell meds to your insurer’s enrollees for significantly less than other drugstores, which can save you up to 80 percent on copays and the cost of medication until you reach your deductible. Also smart: Find out if your insurer has a preferred mail-order pharmacy, which typically will offer prices that are even lower than walk-in drugstores.

Compare prices for deals.

Before using your health insurance to pay for medication, ask the pharmacist how much it costs with insurance (including Medicare) and without it. Believe it or not, bypassing your insurer could cut your bill by as much as 50 percent. That’s because you’ll be avoiding “clawback” charges — fees that go to the middlemen who negotiate drug prices between insurers and pharmacies — which are tacked on to one in four medications! If the price without insurance is less and you’re not trying to meet a deductible, opt for the lower cost to save.

Let them pick up the tab.

Many manufacturers offer patient assistance programs (PAPs) that cover costs for those who qualify. Some companies pay the entire bill for certain meds, such as AstraZeneca; Eli Lilly has a $35 per month program for insulin, and Teva offers copay assistance. To find cash-saving programs, visit NeedyMeds.org and type the name of your medication into the drug search box. Tip: In many instances, PAPs are cheaper than generic versions of the drug — if that’s the case with yours, ask your doctor to prescribe the brand-name version.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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