Do you feel like you have access to cheap medication? Let’s talk about medications and prescriptions. A lot of people need prescriptions pretty regularly. I mean a serious amount. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that about 50% of Americans have used a medication in the past 30 days alone. That’s a seriously significant chunk of people that visit the pharmacy. So let’s think about how many of us shop around for our prescriptions. I’m going to guess a very very slim margin are going to give any thought to price. Certainly not before filling the prescription at the pharmacy.
Let me guess: first step is you go to your doctor’s office, and they prescribe you a medication. Then take it to your usual pharmacy and they fill it for you at whatever price they want. Sound like you? What if I told you that there was a way to do it differently. You actually can get cheap medications.
Here are a few things to consider before you get your prescription filled:
- The same prescription at one pharmacy will likely cost something different at another
- Your insurance company might prefer (pay a larger %) for certain formularies, usually generic brands
- Your medications may negatively interact with one another
With the above information in mind, its important to consider that there are 2 main factors to be concerned about. The effectiveness and the cost of your medications.
Looking firstly at effectiveness, we want to make sure that whatever medication you have been prescribed is actually working. Talk to your pharmacist and make sure that none of your medications are canceling each other out. And make sure they don’t have adverse side effects. You can also use this online tool to see if there are any issues. You shouldn’t expect your doctor to have done that homework for you. It’s best to ask the people that have really been trained in that area.
Let’s next move on to cost. I’m going to guess that you do a bit of research before you buy most things, why not do the same with your prescriptions? Using a price comparison tool like Goodrx is no more challenging than checking the price of a blender on Amazon before you buy it locally.
Whether you’ve noticed it or not, prescription prices have risen dramatically in recent years. In the last year alone, average prices have risen 10%, and that includes generics. And its been that way for the last 3 years in a row. While it may not be huge change for a one-off prescription, its going to add up dramatically over time. Especially when you consider the cost for a family of 4 or 5.
Getting a cheap medication is even more out of reach for people that are a bit older. Their prescriptions average 4.5 per month, and increasingly extortionate prices are having serious consequences. AARP estimated that the median cost of some of the most widely used chronic medications run at $5,800 per year. While this is a far cry from a cheap medication, there is ample room to reduce that cost.
I’ve included Trig’s list of things that you should do when getting a medication below. Check it out for a more comprehensive list of steps.
Things to do before getting a medication
- Make sure you talk to your doctor to understand why you are taking a new medication and what the side effects may be.
- Check your formulary to see which medications are preferred by your health insurance company. Your health insurance company may require prior authorization.
- Check the price of the medication by comparing the cost at the pharmacies in your area.
- Make sure your pharmacist is aware of all medications you are taking to make sure they are compatible with your new medication or run your medications through a drug interaction checker. Verify that it is the correct medication, the correct dosage and that you understand the directions.
- If you are on 5 or more prescriptions, you can take advantage of your carrier’s Medication Management Therapy program. Call your insurance carrier’s customer service line to find out more about this helpful program.
- Monitor your progress. Note any continuing symptoms and/or reactions to your medication and report any necessary information to your doctor.