Employee & Community Health

7 tips for saving on medication costs

2/6/2017 by Amanda Davis PharmD

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Each year the U.S. spends between $100 and $300 billion treating patients who weren't taking their medications. While medications can be expensive, skipping or cutting back on dosages can be even more costly to your health. These seven tips can help you decrease your overall cost of medications, including prescription and over-the-counter remedies and herbal supplements. 

Consider switching to generics or other lower-cost medications

If you can't afford the medication prescribed, ask your health care provider or pharmacist if there is a generic or less-expensive one that will work just as well for you. Share your insurance policy's prescription formulary with them. 

Review your list for medications

Frequently review your medications and ask your care team if there are any duplicates or unnecessary ones, and if: 

  • You can eliminate or reduce any of them. This is especially important as we get older, since medications may not work the same way anymore. To help you with this review, you can schedule an Employee and Community Health (ECH) Medication Therapy Management pharmacist visit through your primary care clinic at 507-266-5311. 
  • Medications are being used to treat preventable side effects from other medications you're taking. 
  • Medications are still needed or indicated for a disease or symptoms you no longer are experiencing. 
  • Herbal or vitamin supplements you may be taking are helpful or possibly harmful to your health. Also, if they aren't covered by your insurance or you're ordering them from a specialty company, these supplements may be more costly for you. Mayo Clinic has additional advice and information about herbal supplements, if you'd like to learn more. 

Buy from the right type of pharmacy

Using an in-network or mail-order pharmacy may lower your co-pays. Check with your prescription drug plan. 

Fill prescriptions for a longer time period

Consider filling your prescriptions with a 90-day supply instead of on a monthly basis. Typically the cost-per-tablet is lower with this option. 

Use manufacturer discount cards

Go to the website for the manufacturer of any brand-name medication to discover if they offer discount cards. Be aware that if you are on Medicare, Medicaid or other government-subsidized insurance plans, you may not be eligible. 

Choose an insurance plan that offers the best coverage

Review your prescription insurance frequently. During open enrollment periods, see if new options might be better for you and your family. Through an online resource like MinnesotaHelp.Info, find various help lines (Senior LinkAge, Disability Linkage, Veterans Linkage, etc.) where you can contact an expert by phone or online to discuss your prescription needs. 

Check our possible Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs 

Some pharmaceutical companies offer help to people with limited income and resources with high-cost, brand-name medications. Find out if you qualify for a Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (Medicare.gov) for the medications you take. 

Amanda Davis, PharmD, is a pharmacist in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Mayo Family Clinic Kasson. She also works with the ECH Anticoagulation Clinic.