Drug prices in the United States have been rising for years, and many people are struggling to afford the price of their prescriptions. While the average person can’t do much to affect healthcare policy or make structural changes, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways for you to reduce your out of pocket expenses on prescription drugs. Considering how opaque and confusing the rules and regulations surrounding prescriptions can be, it’s no wonder that many Americans aren’t sure what their best options are when it comes to obtaining the medication they need at a reasonable price. If you need help finding ways to make your prescription medication more affordable, read on to learn more about how drug prices are set and what you can do to save money.
How are prescription drug prices set?
While in many countries, the government negotiates the price of prescription drugs directly with the pharmaceutical companies, this isn’t true in the United States. Drug companies set the prices for the drugs they sell, but the prices that are offered to consumers depend on other factors as well. Insurers and pharmacies set their own rules and prices based on those set by the drug companies, leaving patients vulnerable to unstable and ever-increasing costs.
Once drug manufacturer’s set their retail price, a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) negotiates with the manufacturer to set their individual cost for acquiring the drug. Since there are many different pharmacies and PBMs, these rates can vary significantly depending on where you decide to fill your prescription.
What are the best ways to save money on prescription medication?
If you’re struggling with prescription drug costs that are too high, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are several ways you can try to reduce your out of pocket costs on prescription drugs. First, make sure you call a few different pharmacies in your area. Drug prices can vary between locations, as pharmacies set their own prices. Some pharmacies also offer savings for customer loyalty or repeat business, so inquire at yours as to whether or not there are any cost-saving options available to you.
Prescription discount programs are also becoming more popular and can offer prices that even beat the ones offered by some insurance plans. Websites like America’s Pharmacy offer coupons and discounts that you can use to save money on your next prescription. If you’re curious about how these websites work or whether or not your medications have coupons available, spend some time doing research online, or talk to your doctor about any general questions you may have.
Your doctor can also make changes to your prescriptions to help reduce costs in many cases. If you’re currently being prescribed a brand name medication, talk to your doctor about whether or not there is a generic alternative. After the chemical patent has expired on a brand name drug, other manufacturers are able to make inexpensive generic versions that work the same way as the pricier drug. While not every drug has a generic version available, many do, and they can save you hundreds of dollars. You can also adjust your dosage and use a pill-splitter to extend the lifespan of your prescriptions, though not every pill can be split.
If you’re struggling with finding the lowest prices for your prescriptions, don’t be afraid to start by talking to your doctor about whether or not there’s a change to medication that might help, whether that’s adjusting your dosage or switching to a generic version of a drug you’re currently prescribed. Once you have your prescription, make sure you call around and check the prices at various pharmacies in your area, as they can vary significantly. Don’t forget to look for any coupons and discounts that may be available, sometimes the discount price can even be lower than the price offered by your insurance plan. While prescription drug prices are likely to continue to rise, your wallet will thank you for making the effort to save yourself money when you head to the pharmacy.