More than three hundred and fifty medications in early 2023 will suddenly rise in price. Reuters reports that healthcare research firm 3 Axis Advisors predicts price increases from several pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Bristol Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca PLC, and Sanofi SA.
Americans are already spending more on prescription pharmaceuticals, with the average annual cost coming in at over $1,300. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation data in 2022, the price of more than half of Medicare-covered medications has risen at a greater rate than inflation. Consumers must make every effort to reduce the cost of their prescription drugs without sacrificing quality. Here are a few suggestions for lowering drug prices.
Consider Generic Drugs
According to the Food and Medicine Administration, switching from a brand name to a generic medicine might save you anywhere between 30% and 50%. The FDA has approved more than 10,000 generic drugs in total, indicating that generic medications are just as effective as their name-brand counterparts.
You can feel secure knowing the FDA requires all generics to adhere to the same high standards as their brand-name variations in every respect. Ask your doctor to prescribe with a checkbox allowing the pharmacist to substitute a generic equivalent or make the request directly.
Know Your Formulary
Take the time to learn about your health insurer's prescription formulary, especially if you take prescriptions regularly. Before communicating with your doctor, you must understand the tier of a drug and how much it will cost you out of pocket. When prescribing, your doctor will take this into account.
For example, he may prescribe a first-tier medicine that is the least expensive rather than a similar drug in a higher tier that is more expensive. You can visit the insurance company's website or phone them to learn more about a specific drug. If you're considering switching health insurance companies, this is another option to evaluate coverage and rates.
Look Into Patient Assistance Programs
According to Christopher Berry, CPF of Castle Wealth Group, many drug companies offer programs to help patients who cannot afford their medications. These programs may provide the medication for free or at a reduced cost.
Enroll Early for Medicare
According to Doug Amis, CFP President & CEO of Cardinal Retirement Planning, Inc. though it can feel silly purchasing a Part D prescription drug plan when you become eligible for Medicare if you are healthy and taking few medications, enrolling late can come with a hefty lifetime penalty for coverage.
Amis said that enrolling in the lowest-cost plan can help you avoid a lifetime penalty and provide access to lower-cost drugs if you follow the plan's specific rules.
In addition, Amis notes that many Part D prescription drug plans offer free generic medication fills and refills if you use a preferred pharmacy. The coverage can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy, so it is vital to know the details to minimize your bills. A preferred pharmacy one year may not be your preferred pharmacy next year.
Nearly 90% of older persons take at least one prescription medication on a regular basis, almost 80% take at least two, and 36% take at least five different prescription medications. Medicare Part D copayments are approximately $5 and sometimes more and can make a lot of difference.
According to Amis, opting for 90-day supplies can help you save money. Buying in bulk with 90-day supplies for routine or chronic prescriptions helps save on packaging and labor. Some of those cost-savings are passed on to the consumer. If you take various prescription drugs, you can also benefit from drug bundles. When you combine multiple medicines, certain pharmacies or insurance programs give discounts.
Ask for Samples
Doctors frequently have full-size samples of various maintenance drugs that they might provide. You should know that only pricey, branded pharmaceuticals are eligible for free drug samples. Therefore, find out from your doctor if you can switch to a generic if that becomes essential, as these name-brand products could not yet have a generic substitute.
If not, your doctor will issue a prescription after reviewing your sample that must be filled. And you may be forced to purchase a very pricey brand-name drug out of pocket.
Use a Prescription Savings Card
According to Walli Miller, a money coach at Financially Thriving, one of the best ways to save money on prescriptions is to check with the drug manufacturer to see if they offer a savings card. This can save you hundreds of dollars.
However, you cannot combine insurance with a prescription savings card. You can select the alternative that allows you to save more money. If your insurance does not cover the cost of your prescription medication, for instance, or if the discount card is less than what you would have to pay in cash, you can decide to use the card instead of your insurance.
Discuss With Your Pharmacist and Doctor
Amis recommends discussing your prescription with your pharmacist and doctor; there can be minor variations that could lead to substantial savings. For example, higher-dose pills may be halved to replace two lower-dose pills.
Similarly, some brand-name prescription drugs can cost a lot, especially when a person pays out of pocket. You may be able to get an alternative medication that performs the same function but is cheaper. You may also ask your doctor if there is another way to treat your problem that would be less expensive than a branded drug.
Another thing to know, according to Miller, is that sometimes the price of medication can vary based on whether it's a capsule or tablet. Check with your pharmacist and ask if the prescription you need comes in a different form.
Where Is The Best Place To Buy?
According to Amis, “If there is not a preferred pharmacy discount, I typically recommend price-checking national big box competitors against mom-and-pop pharmacies.”
Amis notes that the local mom-and-pop pharmacies are often able to offer more personalized service. There can also be online or mail-order options that are less costly than brick-and-mortar pharmacies. This can be especially true for some non-generic medications that can be purchased through CostPlus Drugs, which sells medications at a reasonable markup.
According to Elliot Appel, CFP, financial planner, and founder of Kindness Financial Planning LLC, CostPlus doesn't have everything. Still, the medications they have are often cheaper compared to other pharmacies. They charge a 15% markup, pharmacy labor costs of $3, and $5 for shipping.
For example, a 10 mg 30 count of Atorvastatin is $3.60 with CostPlus Drug Company, plus $3 of pharmacy labor and $5 for shipping. It's cheaper than many of the options listed on GoodRx, but not all of them.
He observes that while a few other pharmacies occasionally provide discounted prices, none do so continuously. He recommends GoodRx, which is renowned for delivering cheaper prescription costs and letting you compare prices at several pharmacies in your neighborhood.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.