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9 Tips to Lower Your Cost for Medications During Covid-19

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by Ellen Blake

Medication costs are on the rise

Do you struggle to pay for your medications, especially now during this difficult time? If so, you are not alone. Many of us do. Even with health insurance, lots of Americans cannot afford drugs critical for their health. Life is difficult if you require medication to remain healthy – which is not uncommon for those of us age 50+.

It’s no secret big drug companies raised prices since the start of the pandemic. According to a report from  Patients for Affordable Drugs, the list of more than 245 drugs includes medications commonly used in intensive care units, lifesaving cancer medications, mental health drugs, blood pressure medications, drugs used for chronic conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis and some used to treat Covid-19. Estimates from other organizations are even higher.

Ways to save on prescriptions in the pandemic

ASK YOUR DOCTOR IF SAMPLES ARE AVAILABLE

I am fortunate to have insurance that covers some medications (though the co-pay is high), but they do not cover one very expensive new cream that effectively controls my itchy allergy related rashes that spontaneously appear frequently on my face. None of the other prescriptions worked for me. She was able to provide me with free samples obtained from a drug representative lasting 3 months. 

TRY A GENERIC VERSION OF THE DRUG

Generics are far less expensive than the name-brand and worth a try. Often they treat the condition as effectively as the more expensive medication. In some cases, they do not; for example, my brother does well on synthroid for his hypothyroid condition, but did not respond well to the generic, levothyroxin. However, usually generics are a good option. 

lower medication costs

ASK FOR A DIFFERENT MEDICATION ALTOGETHER

Ask to try a different medication if a generic is not available for the drug prescribed, or it doesn’t work for you. Frequently, a number of different drugs treat the same condition. Some may work better than others with fewer side effects, but it’s a good idea to try a more affordable option if available. You don’t know what works well for you until you try. Most doctors will work with you to find the best solution if you ask. Note: Don’t assume your physician will automatically prescribe the most cost-effective option; many physicians recommend medications with which they are familiar and know work well. Don’t be afraid to ask the question.

PAY OUT OF POCKET INSTEAD OF CO-PAYS 

The cash (out-of-pocket) price for prescriptions is often less expensive than the average health insurance co-pay for them. You can save up to 80% if you purchase your medications directly from your pharmacy and skip insurance altogether. Ask your trusted local pharmacist about the price of the drug without insurance compared to with insurance before you purchase.

SWITCH TO A 90-DAY SUPPLY

A three month supply is particularly helpful if you take maintenance medications to treat chronic conditions. Sometimes the cost for 90-days purchased at the same time is discounted, though not always. Either way, it is more convenient not to have to pick up every month. You can reduce your risk of the virus with fewer visits to the pharmacy. (article continues after ad)


USE AN ONLINE PHARMACY

Online pharmacies such as honeybeehealth.com are especially helpful for people who have no health coverage or have coverage, but co-pays are high. This company doesn’t accept insurance, but offers great out-of-pocket prices. The goal of this company is to ensure everyone has affordable access to generic medication. They ship free for orders over $20 directly to your front door.

USE WEBSITES AND APPS TO FIND COUPONS AND DISCOUNTS

CHECK OUT PHARMACEUTICAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

For those enrolled in Medicate drug coverage (Part D), some pharmaceutical companies offer programs to help pay for medications. Find out if a program is available that might lower prescription costs for your specific medications.

Also, many states offer help to pay for prescriptions and other drug costs. Check here to see if your state has a State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program.

APPLY FOR “EXTRA HELP”

Medicare and Social Security offer a program called Extra Help for those who qualify to help with prescription costs. In 2020, prescription costs are no more than $3.60 for generics and $8.95 for brand-name covered drugs for those enrolled in the program.

Do your research; find the best way to lower your drug costs

As you can see, there are viable ways to lower expenses for your medications during these tough times. Check into the above suggestions to find out the best way to decrease your costs. If you have other tips that might help others, please share them in the comment section below!

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