Ask my patients and they will certainly verify that I can’t stand it when they are overcharged for medication. I spend a good amount of time spreading the word about how to save money on prescriptions and wrote a post last year detailing 4 great programs that can help you to find cheaper prescriptions. Over the years, I have had many patients that can’t afford medication because of lack of insurance, high deductibles, or insurance plans that won’t cover it. There are huge cost differences between medication prices at different pharmacies. Read these tips on finding affordable prescriptions and don’t waste money again!
Medication prices vary widely
Unfortunately, I have another perfect example of why I am trying to spread the word about medication prices and how to find affordable prescriptions. Recently, one of my patients lost her insurance after sending in a payment late. She didn’t know about these money-saving programs until 2 months later when she had her next appointment with me.
She was having trouble making ends meet and now also had to pay for her medication. CVS, where she normally got medication, charged her $458 for the 3 medications she takes. By buying a one week supply at a time, she was able to continue to get her medication for the next 2 months.
She was saving money to purchase a reliable car but instead spent it on her medication. At her appointment, she asked “what can we do?” because she can’t afford medication that costs this much.
Save money on prescriptions:
At our appointment, I told her about discount programs so she can find cheaper prescriptions while waiting to get her insurance back. We plugged the medication into the GoodRx app where we could immediately compare prices at different pharmacies. (I could also have done this with WellRx which works the same).
The new monthly total for the 3 medications was $47.60…. Remember, she paid $458 per month….
This makes me SO MAD!!!
Now, my patients will also verify that math is not my strength. But with my handy-dandy calculator, I am able to tell you that she WASTED a total of $820.40 paying inflated medication prices. It is so upsetting to me that she was not told by the pharmacy that there is a cheaper option to get her medication.
Don’t wait until you can’t afford medication. Cheaper prescriptions are available!
Over the years, my patients have found different ways to afford to get their medication. These are some of the ways they do it:
1. Pick up one week of the prescription at a time :
Split the monthly script into weekly amounts to prevent having to pay a large sum at one time. This only works for certain types of scripts. You cannot do this if the medication is a controlled substance as it will invalidate the rest of the script. However, for regular scripts (like antidepressants, blood pressure medicine, thyroid medication, etc) this is an option.
But this doesn’t actually save you any money. It just spreads out the cost so that it is possible to pay.
2. Save money on prescriptions by using GoodRx and WellRx:
Both of these are coupon-based programs. After you plug in the medication, dose, and amount of pills you need; the program will tell you the cost of your medication at pharmacies in your vicinity. You can choose to have your prescription sent to the cheapest.
The pharmacy will scan the coupon from your smartphone in the discount program’s app and you will pay the price shown. You can also use these programs from a computer and print out the coupon. I prefer the app since it is one less step to take.
One benefit of GoodRx and WellRx over the other programs I’m discussing is that during the appointment we can plug in the prescription and I can send the script directly to whichever is the cheapest pharmacy. This helps when we are starting a medication and a patient needs to fill it that day. If someone is on a long-term medication they have more freedom to choose from the other programs.
To read more about GoodRx and WellRx read here.
3. Affordable prescriptions by ordering medication from Canada:
*This is an affiliate link. If you order your script through this link I will get a small commission (at no change in cost to you) which helps me fund this website. I recommend this site because I had patients use it and have a good experience*
For medications prescribed on an ongoing basis, ordering medication from Canada has been a great option that my patients have used to get affordable prescriptions. It is important to use a reputable company. Pick a pharmacy that won’t send medications without a valid prescription being sent to them.
Make sure the pharmacy is a certified Canadian pharmacy and only uses medication made in Canada (ie not shipped in from all over the world where standards may be different and medication not equivalent).
This pharmacy, YouDrugstore, is one some of my patients have used for ordering long-term medications. It has a good reputation and is certified. You are required to transmit your prescription to them before they fill it. They will mail you a 3-month prescription at a time if that is what you choose from their list of options.
Medication prices across the border:
The disparity in medication prices is beginning to be studied and recently was written about in this interesting article. They looked at the pricing of chemotherapy drugs in Seattle vs over the border in Vancouver:
Dr. Todd Yezefski, lead author of the Washington group and a senior fellow at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said in an interview that drug costs are cheaper in Canada because the federal government negotiates prices with pharmaceutical companies while in the U.S. there is no such process “because Congress doesn’t allow such negotiations.”
4. Find affordable prescriptions by using Blink Health:
Only certain pharmacies participate in this program but it’s worth checking their prices as sometimes they are better than the other programs (and sometimes they aren’t..).
I explain this program more here, but the basics are that you pay the fee to the company and then bring the paid receipt to the pharmacy that participates. The pharmacy gives you your medication and you don’t have to pay any more money.
Don’t wait until you can’t afford medication. Cheaper prescriptions are available through these discount programs.
Do you have other ways you have found to save money on medication? Many people who don’t know about these programs end up having to go off their needed medication. Let us know what you have found so we can spread the word!
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