It probably comes as no surprise that we Americans pay more for our prescription medications -around $1,200 per year- than anyone else in the world.
And that figure is just an average. If you have a chronic or complex illness, your out-of-pocket costs can be much higher.
Why Do Prescription Drugs Cost So Much More In America?
The U.S., unlike most other countries, doesn’t regulate prices on prescription medications. Drug companies can charge whatever they want. And Americans are expected to bear the burden of these costs.
For instance, Gilead Sciences slapped an $84,000 price tag on its hepatitis C drug, Solvadi. When insurance companies and Medicare have to fork over millions to cover expensive medications like this, all Americans pay the price through higher premiums, deductibles and co-pays.
Drug manufacturers argue that these lavish prices are necessary because it costs so much to develop new medications. But according to an article in U.S. News & World Report, the pharmaceutical industry spends TWICE AS MUCH on marketing to doctors than it does on research and development.
Until lawmakers step up to the plate and put a cap on drug prices, we’ll have to fend for ourselves.
Here are 7 ways that can help you save money on your medications:
Choose Generics When Possible
Generic medications are almost always less expensive than their brand name counterparts.
Always ask your provider to prescribe generics if possible. And keep in mind that many insurance companies won’t pay for brand name medications if there’s a generic equivalent.
It pays to shop around. Go to GoodRx.com to compare the prices of your medications at different pharmacies. You’ll be surprised at how much the costs can differ from one place to the next.
Consider “Big Box” Pharmacies
Many pharmacies located in ‘big box’ stores, like Walmart and Costco, offer really great prices on generic drugs. You can usually get a 30-day prescription for around $4.
These chain pharmacies are definitely worth considering if you want to save a few bucks on your prescriptions.
Request Higher Dose Tablets
A 30-day prescription for thirty, 20-mg pills would likely cost you the same as it would for thirty, 40-mg tablets. Ask your provider if it’s possible, and safe, to get your medications as ‘double-dose’ so you can split them with a pill cutter.
NEVER split pills without talking to your provider and pharmacist. For safety reasons, some medications can never be cut or crushed.
Consider Crossing the Border
Believe it or not, tens of millions of Americans go outside the U.S. every year for their medications. Prices on certain drugs in countries like Canada and Mexico can be considerably less than they are in America.
Just be aware, it’s not technically legal to bring foreign medications back across the border. Fortunately, no one has ever been prosecuted for doing it. Also, keep in mind that the FDA doesn’t ensure the safety of drugs purchased outside the U.S.
Check Out International Online Pharmacies
If you aren’t ready to travel to another country to buy your medications, consider international online pharmacies. You can find accredited ones at PharmacyChecker.com.
Again, the FDA can’t ensure the safety of medications purchased abroad.
Explore Prescription Assistance Programs
You may be able to get help paying for your medications through a prescription assistance program. Here are a few for you to check out:
- State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs
- Partnership for Prescription Assistance
- Medicare Extra Help Program
You can also contact drug manufacturers directly to see if they’re offering any discounts or assistance programs.
If you have a minute, write to your elected officials and let them know you demand fair and transparent pricing when it comes to your medications and healthcare. Find your representative at USA.gov.
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