Getting Your Prescriptions At A Lower Cost
The use of prescriptions in the United States is common, and a necessary part of many treatment plans. Some studies estimate that 70% of adults take at least one prescription drug (Nearly 7 in 10 Americans Take Prescription Drugs, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center Find – Mayo Clinic News Network). Rates of prescription drug use are even higher in adults diagnosed with a chronic illness, and more than half of all adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease (Chronic Diseases in America | CDC). Yet, the prices of prescription drugs continue to climb. The rising costs of prescriptions has led to some patients forgoing treatment as they struggle to afford their medicine. This increases national health care costs and can lead to death or disability in high risk populations. It’s important for patients to get their medicine, at a price they can afford. Below are some suggestions to reduce costs, and organizations that can help.
- Use generic prescriptions. Most insurance plans prefer generic pharmaceuticals rather than brand name prescriptions because they cost significantly less. Generic prescriptions have met all the FDA required standards of treatment; Their strength, ingestion method, and active ingredients are the same as the name brand. Insurance plans are more likely to cover them, and your co-pay will be reduced. For those without insurance, several pharmacies offer “4$ lists”, generic medicines that you can acquire at a low price for lots of common conditions. Some pharmacies may require membership fees to access these prices, but not all.
- Review your medication with your healthcare team. It’s important to discuss the price of your medications with both your doctor and pharmacist. Your doctor may have free medication samples, so it doesn’t hurt to ask. Some insurance companies only cover specific medications for a condition, and your pharmacist can help figure out what those are. There may be alternative medications that will treat your condition while being cost-effective. Regularly discussing your medications with your healthcare team can help ensure you’re only taking medicine that is still necessary, reducing costs over time.
- Request mail order and extended supply prescriptions. Most insurance companies prefer the use of mail order pharmacies, as it reduces their costs. Insurance companies are able to buy larger quantities of the drug and send it directly to you, because the mail order pharmacy operates through the health insurance plan. Switching from a 30-day supply to a 90-day supply can also reduce costs. A 90-day supply will often have the same co-pay, as it requires less time and work invested. A 90-day supply can help with medication adherence for chronic conditions. There are also multiple pharmacies that offer mail-order prescriptions to those without insurance coverage, at a much reduced cost.
- Use coupons. There are many online platforms that offer coupons for both generic and brand-name prescriptions. You can search for your drug or ones your doctor may be considering, and use that coupon at your pharmacy. A lot of coupons can’t be used in combination with insurance, so this may be a better option for those who are uninsured.
Shenandoah Community Health Clinic (SCHC) is a clinic located in Woodstock, Virginia. This clinic serves uninsured and low income patients from the Shenandoah area, providing quality care at reduced costs. They offer dental, medical, and mental health services for a diverse group of patients. Shenandoah Community Health Clinic participates in a program called “The Pharmacy Connection”. For those who qualify, this program connects with drug manufacturers to attain a year’s worth of their medication at no charge. Patients may reapply after one year to continue the program, as long as they continue to meet eligibility requirements. This program is available to current clinic patients, as well as community patients; patients from other medical practices in the county. Eligibility will require the most recent tax returns for both uninsured patients and medicare patients. Medicare patients are also required to show proof of their out-of-pocket expenses on pharmaceuticals and prescriptions.
Contact Information: shenclinic.org 540-459-1700
Medicare.Gov has a tool that allows people to find pharmaceutical assistance programs for the specific drugs they take. They require a Medicare Drug Plan (Part D), but these programs can help with payment for those who qualify.
NeedyMeds.org is an expansive resource for those looking to save on healthcare costs. This non-profit organization has lots of information on pharmaceutical payment programs, diagnosis based programs, and sliding scale clinics. They also offer a discount card that has no eligibility requirements, to be used at participating pharmacies.
Medicineassistancetool.org is an online search engine that helps patients and caregivers find resources and programs to help pay for their medicine. The website asks about your medication and other qualifying factors to connect you with programs you’re eligible for. You can review and compare these programs, and apply for your best options.
Extra Help is a program facilitated by the social security administration, for seniors with medicare coverage. There are multiple qualifications for this program, but the savings are estimated to be worth $5000. The website explains this program on prescriptions in detail.