Thrifty and Frugal Living: How You Can Save Money on Medications

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How You Can Save Money on Medications


You may not know this about me, but I have been a Pharmacy Technician for over 10 years. I am constantly watching people throw away money on medication when it just isn't necessary. It's frustrating.  I have some great medication tips that can save you money! 

1. Get a FREE prescription discount card- Even if you have insurance, you will sometimes run across medications that are not covered. Often weight loss drugs, hair removal creams, medications like Viagra and other drugs are not covered because they are not important to your health. However, discount cards can save you a few bucks every month, sometimes even on these medications. If you don't have insurance at all, it will certainly save you a lot of money. Did I mention they are free? http://yourrxcard.com/ and http://www.rxfreecard.com/ are two you can try. If you have a nice Pharmacy Tech or Pharmacist, ask them to run both and give you the cheapest price. Most Pharmacies wouldn't have a problem doing that for you!

2. Go generic on your medication- Generics are just as good as brands. There are a lot of older people (and a few younger) that I encounter that are terrified to switch to generic. This is basically how it works. Once a drug company develops a drug and it is approved the brand medication is released on the market. That drug company has the patent on the medication for 7 years. After that, all companies are allowed to make their own generic of the medication. They will all have the same active ingredient. You may have a preference on tablet vs capsule vs syrup, but the medication will not effect you differently. In addition, insurance companies charge a lot more (sometimes they even make you pay the cash price) for brand medication. You will save a lot with generic.

3. Ask your Doctor for a medication that has a generic- If you go to the Doctor and He says he is going to prescribe you a new medication, ask him to prescribe something that has a generic. Also, If you are currently on a brand only medication and open to trying other meds, ask your doctor to switch you to an older med that has generics. Doctors receive lunches, goodies (look around the office and notice all the clocks, posters, pens, etc. with drug names) and sometimes even bonuses from Pharmacy reps for prescribing certain medications. I am lucky and my Doctor not only prescribes a generic medication, he checks to see if my insurance covers it before writing the prescription!

4. Save a Fortune on Over The Counter Medications- Do you run to the store for headache medication and buy brand name Tylenol or Motrin? You are throwing away DOLLARS every time you do that. A lot of people don't realize this but, Tylenol, Motrin, Excedrin, Benadryl, etc. are just over priced brand names. Every store you have ever bought these at probably have a ridiculously cheaper version of the same thing right beside it on the shelf. Don't buy Tylenol, but the store version of Acetaminophen. Since I don't expect you to remember the intense and long generic names, here is what you do:

-Grab the brand name box and look on the back for the ingredients. 
-Look at the active ingredient and remember it (example: Acetaminophen)
-Look on the shelf for that generic name, it will probably be right by the brand (sometimes they will have a lame name that involves the brand name changed like Waltussin for Robitussin. You may have to check for active ingredients on the generic).
-Make sure the store version has the same strength as the brand version (ie, they both are 325mg of Acetaminophen)
-Compare prices
-Pick your jaw up from the floor and proceed to check out with the much cheaper store version

*Bonus tip: Walmart is hands down the cheapest on medication (brand or Walmart version). I recently bought some generic Nyquil capsules for 88 cents at Walmart! It is also wise to buy larger bottles of generics that you use a lot of like Ibuprofen (Motrin).

5. Compare prices at Pharmacies & take advantage of $4 Programs- All pharmacies have ridiculous mark-up's on medication. I remember the first time I was doing inventory and realized that there was a 450% mark-up on a medication. I was appalled. Then, I realized that is the standard for the market. I kind of wish our Government would do something about it, but Pharmacies buy medications for pennies and sell them for dollars all the time. Since this is common practice, Pharmacies very greatly on cash prices. If your copay is a percentage, you don't have insurance, or the med is not covered; this will effect you greatly. I once had a medication not covered and it was $45 at a drug store chain. I called around to 5-6 Pharmacies and found it for $17 at a grocery pharmacy. That is a huge difference every month! The $4 medication programs that certain Pharmacies have (Walmart and Target are two that come to mind) can also be beneficial if you are receiving a cheaper generic medication. You can search both Pharmacies online to see which meds are covered.

6. Check the Dollar Store for over the counter creams- I buy triple antibiotic cream (for wounds, cuts) and hydrocortisone cream (for burns, itching) at the Dollar Store for several dollars less than they sell it anywhere else. I always try to stock up so that I am not forced to stop at a drug store in the middle of the night to buy some.

**A few common brand/generic names**

Tylenol = Acetaminophen
Motrin = Ibuprofen 
Excedrin = 250 mg of Acetaminophen, 250 mg of Aspirin, and 65 mg of Caffeine
Robitussin = Guaifenesin
Mucinex = Guaifenesin 
Benadryl = Diphenhydramine
 Gas-X = Simethicone

 Feel free to ask me questions! I hope that this well help someone save some money.

1 comments:

Food Historian said...

I save lots of money on medications- I use Homeopathic remedies and herbal supplements: They're cheaper and available at dollar stores, online clearance sales- amazon.com has them, as well as BOGO sales at grocery stores. The only catch is, you have to do alot of research to find the ones your body needs.
writer61 (at) yahoo Dot com