Sixty percent of Angie’s List members responding to a recent nationwide survey say they spend at least $100 a month on prescription medication. While most are concerned about continually rising costs for their medicine, fewer than 10 percent take the time to comparison shop for price savings.
“So many of us are conditioned to pick up prescriptions from the same pharmacy we’ve always used, but some quick checking around could save you big bucks, and you may even be able to get breaks from the doctor’s office itself,” says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, the nation’s leader in consumer ratings
and reviews, including doctors
Eighty percent of the survey respondents said they do ask their doctor for generic prescriptions to save money. Nearly half say they fill their prescriptions at a national chain pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens, etc.) rather than a wholesale club where prices are often lower.
While comparison shopping, one member found that prices can vary by as much as $75 for a one month supply of medication. Another member took advantage of a prescription transfer program and got $25 for each prescription she transferred to a new pharmacy. The member ended up with $300 in gift cards.
“The first thing every patient should do it talk to their doctor about any prescription. Do they really need it or would better eating habits be just as effective? Are there samples available from the doctor?” Hicks said. “It’s great to have a good relationship with your pharmacist too. Factor in the relationship you have with your pharmacist as you cost compare – you may find it worth the extra money to get your medicine from someone you have a relationship with. Of course you can develop new relationships, too.”
One member reported that she went to her usual pharmacy to pick up an antibiotic prescription for her infant son. Even the generic price was more than she had expected, and her pharmacist took note of her reaction but couldn’t change the price of the drug. Instead, he offered her a $10 gift card for the store to help offset the cost. She said she might still shop around, but she’ll probably just stick with her pharmacist because of that unsolicited overture.
7 Ways to Save on Prescription Medicine
1,025 Angie’s List members responded to the online poll.
- Go Generic – On average you can save anywhere from 30 to 80 percent on prescription drug cost. So before your doctor scribbles out a script for you, be sure you let him or her know that you’d prefer a generic drug if one is available. Generics are basically former brand-name drugs whose patents have expired.
- Ask for Samples – Sometimes you may be able to get your medication for free just by asking for samples. Some providers may be able to give you a full dosage.
- Shop Around – Your first instinct may be to go to the corner pharmacy to fill your prescription, but you’ll almost certainly pay the most there. Many times, it is the wholesale clubs that have the best prices, but check around before you buy. Talk to your friendly pharmacist – if you’re shopping around, the outlet may reconsider its pricing plans or offer other incentives.
- Buy in Bulk, Buy Online – As with anything else, buying in bulk will save you money. If you’re on a maintenance drug, think about getting 30-, 60- or even 90-day supplies. Purchasing those medications online will likely give you the biggest savings.
- Inspect Insurance – Depending on a consumer’s insurance plan, keeping in mind any prescription drug deductibles, it may be less expensive to not use your insurance and just pay for the medication out of pocket.
- Find the freebies – The prescription drug war has made competition fierce. Some grocery stores offer some generic antibiotics for free. Others only charge a few dollars for them. Check out what’s available.
- Just Say No – Before accepting a prescription, ask your doctor if drugs are really necessary. Many times, a better diet, more exercise and adequate sleep could be the answer to health ailments.
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