8 Expert Tips to Save Money at the Pharmacy

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Are you tired of paying for medications? Especially if you're dealing with a chronic condition or taking multiple medications, those pharmacy bills can add up quickly.

Our team has combined our knowledge of the best money-saving pharmacy tips to help you save some cash on those costly prescriptions and more. One hack we all said we rely on is asking for the generic brand. However, there are plenty of other ways to save money at the pharmacy, too. Learn how to maximize your savings and keep more money in your pocket with these expert tips.

1. Ask for the Generic Brand 

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Ensuring that your physician prescribes medications with a generic substitute is essential. Keep an open dialogue with your pharmacist, mainly if you have been prescribed a high-cost drug. You can always ask them if there are lower-cost alternatives. 

Know that while generics are usually less expensive, there might be differences in inactive ingredients compared to brand-name drugs, which could affect your response to the medication. If a generic doesn't yield the desired results, consult your doctor. 

Generics are typically placed in the most affordable tier for those with prescription insurance, providing cost-saving opportunities. You can ask your pharmacist about similar, less expensive drugs within the same therapeutic class that can effectively address your health condition. By knowing the generic counterparts of your medicine, you can save money at the pharmacy while still receiving the necessary care you require. 

2. Try Using Goodrx

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If you're eager to save money at the pharmacy, look at GoodRx. This free mobile app and website have transformed how Americans cut prescription medication costs, contributing to dollars in monthly savings. It’s your ultimate ally in the ongoing battle against skyrocketing drug prices. 

GoodRx offers a price comparison tool accessible through the mobile app or their website, enabling you to secure up to 80% discounts on nearly all FDA-approved drugs, whether brand name or generic. After using the GoodRx search tool, it doesn't merely display discount coupon prices; it also alerts you to lower cash or membership program rates at specific pharmacies, as well as any manufacturer offers that may be available.

This tool liberates you from the assumption that drug prices are fixed. In reality, prices vary significantly from one pharmacy to another. The only caveat with GoodRx is that your prescription savings do not count toward your insurance deductible. Still, GoodRx benefits you if you are uninsured or enrolled in a high-deductible health plan.

CVS pharmaceuticals can be even cheaper now thanks to a recent partnership. CVS Caremark has partnered with GoodRx to give pharmacy discounts to commercial plan customers.  Caremark members will be able to pay lower prices on generic prescription drugs (when applicable) by automatically accessing GoodRx's pricing.

3. Unlock Savings With Manufacturer Drug Coupons

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Manufacturer coupons are valuable for individuals seeking to save money at the pharmacy. These coupons, which often go by names such as copay cards, copay coupons, or pharma coupons, are incentives offered by pharmaceutical manufacturers to encourage the use of their branded products. 

These drug coupons work with your health insurance, benefiting you from reduced out-of-pocket expenses. However, it's essential to be aware of their limitations, including cost caps and time restrictions. 

For example, while a coupon may promise a $10 monthly copay, it may have a capped value of $5,000. You'll revert to your standard, higher copay if your prescription medication costs exceed this limit within the year. 

Manufacturer coupons are a handy resource for cutting prescription costs. They are readily available online and through healthcare providers, making them a valuable tool for those seeking to reduce pharmacy expenses.

4. Learn About Patient Assistance Programs

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Patient assistance programs (PAPs) are a lifeline for those looking to save money at the pharmacy when they lack health insurance or have inadequate coverage. Pharmaceutical manufacturers usually back them. These medication assistance programs serve as a crucial safety net for countless Americans by offering financial aid to access medications at minimal or no cost.

All major pharmaceutical companies extend their hand through assistance programs to make medications more accessible. While eligibility criteria differ among drug companies and available funding may be limited, exploring these medication assistance programs is a good step. These programs may provide free medications to uninsured individuals or help offset co-pays for those with high-deductible insurance plans.

Program eligibility is typically income-based, accommodating patients who fall into three primary categories: those without insurance, individuals whose insurance does not cover the prescribed medication, or patients whose prescription costs constitute a significant portion of their annual income.

The Medicine Assistance Tool (MAT), initiated by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, is a starting point in looking for the proper assistance program, electing your brand-name medication, and sharing essential preliminary information. MAT swiftly identifies programs tailored to your eligibility, ensuring that vital financial support is within reach for those who need it most.

5. Buy In Bulk 

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If you want cheaper prescription drugs, buying medicine in bulk can be a wise move to save money at the pharmacy while ensuring you have a consistent supply of your essential medications. One practical approach is to consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist about obtaining a 90-day supply rather than the standard 30-day quantity.

You don't have to be a member at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam's Club to take advantage of their cheaper prices, although club members get some amazing perks.  For example, Sam's Club Plus Members can get free prescription drugs.  There is a list of ten generic prescription drugs for $0 and 600 generic drugs for $10 or less.

Many insurance plans offer convenient mail-order pharmacy options for home delivery, permitting you to order a three-month stash of your regular medications in one go. This approach mainly benefits those on year-round prescriptions, as it can translate into significant savings. 

While some medicines, especially heavy-duty painkillers and opiates, may have restrictions on bulk orders due to the need for frequent dose adjustments, it's always worth exploring the possibility. 

Buying in bulk usually costs less and provides insights into the feasibility of obtaining extended supplies, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of cost-efficient, long-term medication management.

6. Check Pharmacy Membership Programs

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When managing your healthcare expenses and seeking ways to save money at the pharmacy, taking advantage of drugstore deals at major pharmacy chains like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens can be a game-changer. These programs offer valuable incentives to customers, allowing them to accumulate points by simply engaging in health-conscious activities like filling prescriptions, getting vaccinations, monitoring vital health indicators, or even embracing a healthier lifestyle. 

The reward for your dedication often comes in the form of discounts or reward dollars that can be applied to various health and wellness products and services. These benefits extend beyond prescription drug savings, encompassing multiple healthcare needs. It's important to note that exceptions exist, and not all purchases are eligible for these reward programs.

These pharmacy chains are committed to safeguarding your privacy, ensuring your data remains protected and isn't sold to external marketers without your explicit consent. So, while navigating the realm of healthcare expenses, exploring these pharmacy deals can make a significant difference in your quest to optimize your healthcare spending.

7. Look for Discounts Online and Offline 

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In the quest to save money at the pharmacy, one highly effective strategy is to explore online and offline discounts when purchasing medicines. The reasons for doing so are compelling. 

Online platforms offer many opportunities to secure discounts on prescription medications. Various websites and apps are dedicated to comparing medication prices and locating the best deals, ensuring you don't overpay for the essential medicines you need. Online pharmacies often provide exclusive discounts and promotional codes, which can substantially reduce the cost of your prescriptions.

Local pharmacies and drugstores frequently offer in-store promotions, loyalty programs, and rewards for frequent customers. You can consistently trim down your pharmacy expenses by looking for and taking advantage of these discounts.

By combining the power of online price comparisons, in-store promotions, and manufacturer coupons, you can maximize your savings on prescription drugs and improve your overall financial well-being. The key is to be proactive in your search for discounts in the digital world or your local community to ensure you take advantage of valuable opportunities to save money on prescription drugs at the pharmacy.

8. Consider a New Insurance Plan

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When seeking effective ways to save money at the pharmacy, exploring a new insurance plan or provider can be a strategic move. While it may involve some effort and considerations, switching to a different plan can significantly impact your healthcare expenses, especially prescription medications. It's essential to stay proactive and review your insurance options annually during open enrollment periods, whether through your employer or Medicare.

Insurance plans can change their drug coverage each year, and ensuring you have the best plan for your specific needs is crucial for your financial well-being. Before making the switch, conduct thorough research to ensure no coverage gaps for your essential prescriptions. Talk to your current insurance provider to explore solutions tailored to your medication requirements.

Many insurance companies offer online services and drug price look-up tools, making finding the most cost-effective options for your medications easier. Embracing a new insurance plan may require some effort. Still, it can be a powerful strategy for optimizing your healthcare spending.

Author: Tammy Danan

Title: Writer

Expertise: personal finance, business


Tammy Danan is a freelance writer, editor, and strategist with over 10 years of experience. As a journalist, she has bylines in Al Jazeera, VICE, Rest of World, among others. As a content writer, her words have appeared in Shutterstock, Zapier, Teachable, and many more. Today, Tammy focuses on writing about personal finance, the future of work, and financial independence.