If you’ve ever had to pick up a prescription, you know how expensive medicine can be. However, prices can vary widely from pharmacy to pharmacy, even within the same area. This means you can save big money by comparing pharmacy prices before you fill your prescription.
In a Hurry?
If you want to compare pharmacy prices, start by using an online app or calling around to check the pharmacy prices in your area. Focus especially on independent pharmacies or those in lower-income neighborhoods. Once you have chosen your pharmacy, ask the pharmacist if there are any discounts available for your medication. To learn more about saving money on your prescription, keep reading!
Finding the Right Pharmacy
- Compare prescription prices online. These days there are apps and websites which take some of the legwork out of comparing pharmacy costs. A simple web search will turn up a number of results. These apps will show the prices of the same prescription at various pharmacies near you, allowing you to make the most informed decision about where to pick up your medication.
- Call around to different pharmacies in your area. Believe it or not, 2 pharmacies across the street from each other might have vastly different prices for the exact same medicine. Call around to some of the pharmacies in your town and ask what their prices will be.
- Some pharmacies may not give out prices over the phone, while others will need your insurance information before they can tell you how much a prescription will cost. Try going into the pharmacy if you can’t get the info you need with a phone call.
- Be sure to check prices at independent pharmacies. It might seem like the big chains will offer the lowest prices, but this isn’t always true. Chain drug stores stay competitive by offering convenience, a well-known name, and a wide variety of non-drug items. Independent pharmacies often rely on competitive prices and personalized customer service to stay in business.
- Check prices at pharmacies on the lower-income side of town. Prices for prescriptions tend to be lower in low-income neighborhoods. If you live in a more affluent community, try calling pharmacies in nearby areas that aren’t as fortunate.
- Order your medicine from an online pharmacy. You can sometimes save money by having your prescription shipped to you from an online pharmacy. You’ll want to make sure that the pharmacy has the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS) symbol clearly displayed on their website. These companies save you money by shipping your medications directly from the manufacturer instead of running brick-and-mortar stores.
Talking to Your Doctor and Pharmacist
- Ask your doctor about medication costs. Many people never bring up the subject of price with their doctor, but talking to your physician might save you a lot of money and time. For instance, your doctor might be able to prescribe a generic version of your prescription or possibly a different low-cost medication that has similar effects.
- In most cases, generic drugs are just as safe and effective as name-brand drugs, so ask your doctor if they could be right for you. Unless you’re on antiseizure medication, blood-thinners, or medication to control an irregular heartbeat or to prevent rejection of a transplant organ, a generic will probably work for you.
- Ask your pharmacist about patient assistance programs. Some pharmaceutical companies offer programs to help patients who can’t afford the cost of their medications. If you qualify for one of these programs, you might be able to get your medicine at little or no cost to you.
- Many of these pharmaceutical companies list these programs online so you can also check the manufacturer’s website.
- Buy your prescription in bulk. Ask your doctor if they will write your prescription for several months at a time instead of just a few weeks or a month. You can save big by getting a 90-day prescription instead of filling 3 30-day refills.
- Ask your doctor about getting a higher-dose pill and splitting it. Often, the price of a prescription isn’t much higher for a stronger version of the same pill. Talk to your doctor and the pharmacist to see if it would be safe to get your medication in twice the dose you usually take. You can use a pill splitter to take half the pill at a time, so you’ll save money but you’ll still get the exact same dose.
- Capsules, gel caps, and time-release pills should not be split.
- Ask your pharmacist if you can save by bypassing your insurance. Some insurance companies charge a set fee per prescription. In some cases, the cost of the drug without insurance would be less than this fee. A pharmacist might not volunteer this information, so be sure to ask. If the cost is less, simply pay out of pocket instead of offering your insurance card at the register.
- Get a prescription discount card from an organization like AAA or AARP. Prescription discount cards are usually free, and they are offered by a variety of organizations, including AAA, AARP, and independent companies. These cards are not insurance, but they can help you get low-cost prescriptions in much the same way that insurance could.
- Do not order your medicine from a non-VIPPS online pharmacy, as these are not regulated by the FDA.
- Always talk to your doctor before you make any changes to your medication.
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