Does the cost of rising healthcare have you stressed? Saving on prescription medications is the first step to helping alleviate some of that worry. Here are 7 tips for paying for prescription medications – especially as a self-pay patient.
Save on Prescription Drugs
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As many of you knew, we “broke up” with insurance a few years ago.
And honestly, it’s one of the best decisions we ever made.
Being self-employed, insurance is extremely expensive for subpar coverage.
By combining the power of a Christian Health Share with a direct pay clinic, we have been able to save so much money – and have all our major medical bills paid in full.
Prescription drugs can often add up quickly, though, and they don’t always reach the $400 minimum my health share requires per incident.
Especially if it’s for an on going medication, like for acid reflux.
While people with insurance may pay a $5-25 co-pay, we frequently see prices quoted at a much higher price.
Fortunately, we’ve been able to find ways to save on necessary medications over the years, and if you are in the self-pay boat (or have a crazy high deductible), today we are here to share a few of those tips!
I know that healthcare costs (that just keep rising) are one of the biggest concerns for Americans today, so my hope is that this post will help you discover some ways to make it a little more affordable.
Prescription Savings Program
Everyone should have a prescription savings program part of their money-saving toolbox.
These are generally free to use and they can save you a TON on prescriptions.
I’ve consistently seen our price cut by 50% or more simply by sharing our prescription code or coupon with the pharmacy we are at.
There are two things that I love about prescription savings programs.
First, these programs allow you to shop around BEFORE you get your prescription to find the best place.
Because believe it or not – prices can very SIGNIFICANTLY depending on where you go.
Secondly, you are able to get a discount simply for being a part of the program, and they offer coupons as well.
One of my favorite tools that I have found to save on prescription medications is RxSaver by RetailMeNot. RetailMeNot has always found ways to help shoppers save on everything they need – now including prescriptions.
It’s accepted at thousands of retailers and pharmacies, and it is SO easy to use. Simply type in the name of your medication and it will show you the prices and how they vary from pharmacy to pharmacy.
I have never had a medication not show up. You can download their easy-to-use app or use it online at RxSaver.com. Try out the widget below on one of your prescriptions:
I did a search on my most expensive prescription medication (Progesterone), and it was really helpful. Although my grocery store I pick it up at applies a self-pay discount, I actually found that there were quite a few pharmacies I could buy it at for quite a bit cheaper!
In fact, I discovered that the coupon for their store through RxSaver was $3 less than what they charged me – so even if I didn’t go to another pharmacy to get it, RxSaver would be saving me some!
I love how easy they make it to just shop around but also to redeem the coupons. All you have to do is click on “Get Coupon” and you can show it on your mobile device OR print it from your computer.
When searching for medications, make sure you adjust the filters to make sure it’s the right quantity, dosage, and type of medication to make sure it’s as accurate as possible. A pharmacy cannot accept it unless the coupon is for the exact medication and amount it lists.
It’s amazing to me to see how much the price goes down once the coupons are applied. If you aren’t using RxSaver – you need to Check out RxSaver.com or download the app immediately!
Just today I got a new prescription for omeprazole. I found a coupon on RxSaver that brought it down to just under $3.
The lady at the pharmacy said, “Wow! Where did you get this coupon? That made it so cheap” and she really wanted to make sure she got the right name.
I thought that was pretty cool. Their store prescription savings program – in the past – had always beat the old program I was using, but the cheapest I would have gotten it through them was $12.
Always ask your doctor if they are going to be giving you a prescription for a generic.
Generic medications are almost always going to be less. Not all medications have a generic available – but if it is, you should get it.
I can’t think of any compelling reason to not get a generic brand medication!
Samples from Doctor’s Office
Doctors are constantly being sent samples of medications, and they might be able to let you have some of those samples if they happen to have one.
This is something to ask about – especially if you are just trying out a new medication and aren’t sure you will be buying a large quantity.
For instance, my midwife gave me some samples of anti-emetic to try out for morning sickness. This is a pretty expensive medication – even with RX Saver – this is the price for just ONE pill:
This medication doesn’t always work, either, so it was kind of a big investment just try it out. So she gave me some samples that would have lasted me about a week to see if it was something I actually wanted to invest in.
I have had many doctors be more than willing to give me samples before I leave the office – so don’t be afraid to ask.
My primary care doctor also gets medical supplies and samples from different distributors. She saves them to give to her patients – because she has a lot of self-pay patients.
A few years ago, she gave us a whole container of Albuterol for our sons’ nebulizer, which saved us a lot of money.
Ask for over the counter alternatives
Some medications are simply higher doses of over-the-counter medications.
Going back to the morning sickness example above – it’s just a differently compounded version of Vitamin B6 and Unisom.
A bottle of B6 can cost you under $10 and Unisom about the same. Some people can tell a difference, but for many, the effects are the same.
There aren’t always over-the-counter alternatives, but it’s worth asking about.
In general, getting a prescription in a larger dosage will bring the cost down.
Of course, this isn’t always possible – medications, like narcotics, can only be prescribed in very specific dosages.
But for maintenance medications (in my case, my acid reflux medication) can usually be prescribed to be picked up in 60 or 90 day supply, rather than just 30 day.
Not only does it save you money going to the pharmacy, but it should save you a little bit on the actual cost.
Sometimes getting a different dosage (300 mg one time a day versus 150 mg two times a day) will save you money as well.
This is what my doctor found when she was prescribing an acid reflux medicine – it actually saved us quite a bit of money!
Sometimes you can’t always tolerate a different dosage, but if it works…it works!
Different Forms of the Medication
My primary care doctor is really good about prescribing medications in the most cost-effective way possible.
Before she prescribes something, she checks around to see what the least expensive version of it will be.
Sometimes it means having a higher dosage less times a day or ordering a larger amount – like I mentioned above.
You can also sometimes get medications in different forms (pill versus liquid) for a more cost-effective solution.
I really appreciate her being proactive like this – but not all doctors will take the time.
You can use RxSaver to look at this yourself. I love that it will let you look at different versions of the medication, pick the dosage, etc.
I have found that when it comes to healthcare, you have to be proactive and advocate for yourself.
If you aren’t careful, you can end up with bills significantly higher than you initially thought they would be – especially when it comes to prescription medications.
I hope that this post will help you make more informed decisions about where and how to buy your medications when you are paying for them out of pocket.
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Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.