By Brian Acton
Paying for prescription drugs can get expensive, regardless of whether you have prescription coverage. Copays and out-of-pocket costs vary between insurance providers, and you’re on the hook for the full price if you don’t have insurance.
When you’re on a budget, it pays to look for ways to save money on prescription drugs. Here are six tips for saving money on prescriptions.
- Open a FSA or HSA
If you’re able to do so, opening a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) is one of the best ways to save on prescription costs. These savings plans allow you to set aside money tax-free for medical expenses including prescriptions. When you use your account to purchase an eligible drug, that money will not be subject to taxation.
Some employers offer FSAs to their workers. To be eligible for an HSA, you must participate in a high-deductible health plan.
- Get the Generic Version
Generic prescriptions are the off-brand version of a prescription drug and aren’t produced by the original pharmaceutical manufacturers. Because the generic manufacturer didn’t have to pay for the research and development and marketing of the original drug, they can afford to charge much less for their versions.
Despite common concerns about the effectiveness of generic drugs, the active ingredients are exactly the same and they are required by law to be as safe and effective as the name brand version. Next time you’re prescribed a name brand drug, check with the physician if there’s a cheaper generic version available.
- Receive State Assistance
State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs (SPAPs) can provide assistance for in-state residents to afford their prescriptions. Some programs require you to sign up for Medicare Part D, while others have different requirements. Programs vary between states, and may help pay for premiums, deductibles, or copayments.
Not all states offer SPAPs, and they all have different eligibility requirements. Check if your state offers a SPAP and if you’re eligible to participate.
- Sign Up for a Pharmacy Membership
Some pharmacies offer membership programs that provide discounts on brand name and generic drugs, and may even offer rewards toward future purchases when you fill prescriptions. Check with your favorite pharmacy to see if there is a membership program and learn about the benefits.
- Shop Around
You can’t assume your local pharmacy always has the best prescription prices, so it can pay off to shop around. Check websites like wellrx.com to compare drug prices online and find the lowest prices in your area.
If your insurance provider works with mail order pharmacies, you might be able to save big by ordering larger quantities of medications and having them delivered directly to your door. Mail order pharmacies typically make sense for maintenance medications for chronic conditions, and you’ll receive several months’ worth of prescriptions at once.
- Skip Insurance
In some cases, using your insurance may actually cost you more than the prescription itself - this occurs when the full price of the medication is less than your copay. Whenever filling a prescription, check the list price of your medication and pay for it directly if its cheaper than your insurance copay.