Medication can be very expensive, and a burden on some budgets. But it doesn’t have to. Here are some steps you can take to find the medication you need for the best cost:
Get what you need – and get it cheaper. Learn what medication it is that you need, and then contact your insurance carrier to find out if a generic version is available. Generic drugs are generally the same as their brand-name counter-parts, but are typically less expensive. You can find out about generic medications by asking your provider or calling you carrier’s customer service line.
Try a sample. You can ask for free medication samples, if they are available. Your healthcare provider will let you know if free samples will work for your situation but don’t hesitate to ask since your provider may not think to offer them. Also, keep in mind that samples are usually for expensive name-brand medications, so if you need to continue taking the medication after your sample runs out, you may end up paying more in the long run. Samples are good options for short-term medication needs.
Learn about your coverage for both generic and brand-name drugs. A formulary is a list of medications, generic and brand-name, that your health insurance plan will cover. Medications not on your formulary will require you to pay out-of-pocket. To find out what medications are on your formulary, you can look at your plan documents, or you can contact you insurance company to request a copy. You may be able to find this information on your carrier’s site, as well.
Get permission. Your health insurance carrier may require prior authorization from your doctor before your pharmacy can fill prescriptions. This is a review and approval process for medications. Some carriers require this to get more information before deciding whether or not they will cover the cost of your prescription.
Shop around. If a drug is not on your formulary, or if it is only partially covered, you will want to shop around for the pharmacy with the lowest price. You can call pharmacies, do online research and compare pharmacy prices in your area. You can also see if you’re eligible for assistance programs; some pharmaceutical companies offer certain medications free of charge or for a lower co-pay. Be sure to ask your provider if you would be able to take advantage of these programs. Government and private programs that can help lower the price of your prescription. Check if you are eligible by going to www.benefitscheckup.org or www.rxassist.org.
Photo credit: Lisa Yarost