The cheap prices advertised on websites can be tempting, but for the sake of your safety, stay away from discount drugs sold online. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy says 97 percent of the more than 10,000 prescription drug websites it reviewed appear to be rogue sites. That means they are not in compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws, and medications from these sites could put your health at risk.
You may have additional relief coming. Starting in January 2014, every health insurance plan in the U.S. must have prescription drug coverage.
Prescriptions are defined as one of ten ‘essential health benefits’ by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. So even if you don’t have prescription drug coverage now, you should check with your insurer to see what sort of coverage you’ll have in January.
While health reform requires insurers to provide coverage for prescription drugs, you could still be on the hook for up to 40 percent of the medicine’s cost in the form of co-pays. Plus, if your medicine isn’t included in your insurer’s formulary – that’s its list of approved medicines – you could be stuck with the entire bill.
Shop around: Just as the price for a loaf of bread varies from store to store, the prices of prescription drugs vary between pharmacies. A May 2013 report from Consumer Reports found a huge range of prices when it sent shoppers out to buy five popular generic medications.
For example, the price of a one month supply of generic Singulair ranged from $27 at Costco to $165 at CVS. It pays to call a couple different pharmacies if you are paying out of pocket, and remember you don’t have to be a member to use the Costco pharmacy.
Apply for assistance: Most major pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs that provide free or reduced price prescriptions to income-eligible individuals. You can search for these programs on the Partnership for Prescription Assistance Website at www.pparx.org.
Ask for a 90-day prescription: With a 90-day prescription, you typically get more medicine for less money. Consider the experience of one of our SavingsAngel members: Her plan had a 50% co-pay for all prescriptions. For thirty day prescriptions, the co-pay was capped at $100; co-pays for 90-day prescriptions were capped at $200. The co-pay was twice as much for the longer prescriptions, but she could get three times the medicine and so she came out ahead in the end.
Some health insurance plans will let you fill 90-day prescriptions at any pharmacy while others require you use a pre-approved mail order pharmacy. Check with your insurer for their policy.
Use a store loyalty card: Store loyalty programs may not save you any money immediately, but they can help you earn future discounts and perks. In addition, these programs can be used even if your insurance pays the entire cost of your prescription. Popular store loyalty programs include Balance Rewards at Walgreens, Wellness Rewards at Rite Aid and mPerk Pharmacy Rewards at Meijer.
Look for discount drug programs: Speaking of Meijer, you can get free and low cost prescriptions for chronic conditions such as high cholesterol at their pharmacies. Target and Walmart also offer $4 prescriptions on hundreds of generic medications for a variety of conditions from asthma to arthritis.
Talk to your doctor about over-the-counter options: Check with your health care professional to see if you really need a prescription. In some cases, an over-the-counter remedy can be just as effective.
Use pre-tax dollars to pay for medicines: Investigate whether your employer offers a flexible-spending account (FSA). You can save a healthy percentage of all money used for health-related expenses from not having to pay income tax on it as well. FSAs are almost always a great deal for consumers.
Are there some drugs you can graduate from? Talk to your physician about what you can do to eliminate the need for prescriptions all together. Some chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes can be managed with lifestyle changes rather than medicine. Having personally lost more than fifty pounds in the past few years, I can tell you that every aspect of my health has improved significantly and has kept me free from prescriptions that may have been otherwise necessary.
Understandably, this is not an option for all drugs and treatment plans. However, the least expensive prescription is the one you no longer need.
The best couponers save hundreds of dollars every month at the grocery store. However, extreme couponers can end up living very extreme lifestyles to get those savings. For over five years, SavingsAngel.com has equalized the playing field – giving extreme savings to busy families who don’t have the time or ability to be an extreme couponer. Each week, SavingsAngel.com’s over 70 angels combine over 2,000 products on sale at local grocery and drug stores with an enormous database of over 2000 different manufacturer coupons. These combinations result in our members getting access to over 300 products each week for 50% off or better. Simply log in, choose the deals you want, print or clip only the coupons you need, and save hundreds of dollars a month at regional and national stores. Our angels will personally work with you to craft a plan that will help you buy healthier food at lower prices – helping you keep $200 to $400 in savings each month.
Josh Elledge is the Chief Executive “Angel” of SavingsAngel, Inc. – launched from his home in January 2007. A husband and father of three, he now appears each week on television, in eight newspapers, and a number of radio stations across the country teaching families how to cut their grocery bill in half using the Internet. Elledge created the technology found on SavingsAngel.com through the need to save his own family’s money. Successfully able to cut his own grocery bill from $600 a month to less than $300 a month, his message has reached hundreds of thousands of families. SavingsAngel.com is now growing rapidly throughout the country. You can watch a short video at SavingsAngel.com that will explain more information about how to cut your own grocery bill in half with the help of SavingsAngel.com!