Nearly one in five adults (18%) reported that they or a family member skipped prescribed medicine at least once in the prior 12 months to save money, according to a recent survey from Gallup and West Health.
“Although higher costs may be causing many to make concessions, that doesn’t need to be the case when it comes to many prescription medications,” said Mona Chitre, chief pharmacy officer and vice president of clinical strategy for Excellus BCBS. “There are several ways to save money on prescription medications without jeopardizing your health and safety.”
The first step in saving money, according to Chitre, is to start with a talk with your physician, pharmacist or health care provider who prescribed the medication.
“Having a trusting relationship with your health care team is critical so you can work together to determine the best treatment for you. Ask why the prescribed medication is needed and how it works. It’s important to let them know if you have financial limitations so that they can identify lower cost options that work just as well or other interventions to meet your budget.”
Chitre recommends these money saving tips:
- Generics. Generic equivalents have the same active ingredients and therapeutic effects and can save as much as 80% off the cost of brand name medications.
- Know your health plan’s formulary and research your copays or coinsurance. Many health plans have tiered costs for covered medications: lowest cost for generics to highest cost for select brand name drugs. You can access most insurance company drug formularies (list of covered drugs) on their websites to see what your medication may cost.
- Take as prescribed. Not filling prescriptions or taking medication less frequently than directed can end up costing more money down the road by delaying your recovery – or worse, resulting in a hospital stay or ER visit.
- Mail service/90-day supply. In addition to the convenience of filling your prescriptions by phone or online and having them delivered to your home, you may also save money when you fill one 90-day supply of your medication instead of three 30-day supplies.
- Regularly review your medications. At each provider visit, review your prescribed medications and ask if they are still needed or if lower-cost options have become available.
- Prescription discount programs: If you’re paying full price for medications that are outside of your pharmacy plan or if you don’t have insurance, these programs are free to join and can be an easy way to save on prescription medications at participating pharmacies. Excellus BCBS offers the Inside Rx discount card to help the community access discounts at more than 60,000 pharmacies.
- Drug assistance programs: New York state offers the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program to seniors to help supplement out-of-pocket Medicare Part D drug plan costs.
- Manufacturer assistance programs: Pharmaceutical companies may offer an assistance program on the medications they manufacture.
Whether you’re insured or not, there are many ways to help save money on prescription medications. Become a smart shopper and always talk with your provider or pharmacist before making any changes to your medications.
Edward Byrnes Edward.Byrnes@excellus.com
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 3,500 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit ExcellusBCBS.com.