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Hand of a child inserting a coin into a piggy bank. Concept of savings and health economics.

How to Save Money on Prescription Drugs (Including Vaccines)

Anyone would jump on an opportunity to save money on prescription drugs. After all, healthcare has become a ‘luxury’ that most people can’t afford, even with insurance. 

Saving money on medication shouldn’t have you denying yourself the care you need to get better. It is important to be smart when spending money on medication. The Medicare Family has some pointers you can use to ensure you save on prescription drugs. Here are some tips:

Shop Your Part D Drug Plan or Medicare Advantage Annually

Medicare prescription drug coverage, Part D plans, can help you save money on prescription drugs. Part D is an addition to Part A and Part B.  You can enroll in a Part D plan during Medicare’s annual enrollment period, which runs from October 15 to December 7. 

If you’re already enrolled in a Part D plan, you can use the annual enrollment period to switch to a new plan or make changes to your existing plan. The requirement to use this insurance coverage is to have Medicare Part A and Part B first.

Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies and provide all of the benefits of Medicare Part A and Part B, plus additional benefits such as prescription drug coverage, dental, and vision. Medicare Advantage plans can also be added or modified during the AEP.

With either option, take time to review your choices, work with The Medicare Family, and make sure you’re getting the best possible coverage at the best possible price.

Apply for LIS (Extra Help)

The Low-Income Subsidy (LIS), also known as “Extra Help,” is a program that helps Medicare recipients with limited incomes and resources pay for their Medicare insurance and prescription drugs. If you qualify for the LIS, you can save money on your Medicare premiums, deductibles, and copays. 

There is no limit on how much money you can save, but there is a yearly cap on out-of-pocket costs. To qualify for the LIS, you must meet certain income and resource guidelines. In 2022, the resource limits are up to $14,010 ($27,950 for married couples) to qualify for partial subsidies. The limits are $8,400 ($12,600 for married couples) for the full low-income subsidy.

Ask For Assistance on Patient Assistant Programs

Some drug manufacturers, nonprofits, and government agencies have patient assistance programs (PAPs). Typically these programs offer low-cost or free medications if your insurance doesn’t cover your medicine or you can’t afford it.

The qualification process for those programs involves proving that you cannot afford the medication and may require your healthcare provider to fill out parts of an application. Ask about PAPs if your insurance doesn’t cover your medicine or you can’t afford your portion of the expense.

Use your Pretax Health Account

If available, you can contribute some money to a pretax health account, allowing you to save on taxes. If employed, your employer may offer a flexible spending account, or health savings account associated with a high-deductible health plan, for submitting claims and repayments.

Flexible savings accounts require you to spend the dollars you set aside within a given timeframe. Health savings accounts allow you to carry over those pretax dollars from year to year and transfer them from one employer to another.

Here is an illustration with nine of the healthcare insurance cards you might be carrying. SAVE MONEY ON PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

Look into Discount Programs

You will likely find discount programs if you can invest some time before buying your prescription drugs to do some research. Drug producers have developed these programs to ensure you get the best deals with the lowest prices to save money on prescription drugs. One of the most popular programs is Amazon Prime RX Savings.

A deep dive into discount deals will reveal that they are helpful if you don’t have insurance. You must be careful when using these discounts since you cannot use them with your insurance. Research into discount programs takes you to websites where companies have listed discount offers.

Consider getting your prescription from the same store offering discounts as it provides the following benefits:

  • It creates better grounds for you to negotiate.
  • The pharmacist can get an updated list of your medications, making it easier to save money since the pharmacist can spot old prescriptions and duplicates.
  • Also, it may prevent a prescription cascade by alerting the pharmacist to potential interactions with other medications you are taking. This would prevent you from developing interaction side effects which may require you to buy additional medicine to offset.

Supplement Medication with Non-Pharmacologic Alternatives

Some conditions can be treated by means other than medication. It’s essential to ask if there are treatment alternatives to consider besides medication after receiving a prescription from your physician. For instance, psychotherapy may be an effective alternative in treating depression. Another example of an alternative to using prescription medication may be physical therapy to manage chronic pain. 

Even if non-pharmacologic alternatives can’t eliminate the need to use drugs to treat certain conditions, they may help lower the required dosages and could still save money on prescription drugs.

Compare Prescription Prices

Nowadays, viewing medication prices online in your local stores is easy. Luckily most of the tools you use to carry out comparisons, like Good RX, are free. Search for your drug on one of these websites to find the best price, then print out coupons, or download them to your phone, to take with you to the pharmacy. 

Buy Your Prescriptions Drugs in Bulk If You Can

people with pile of pills

Stocking up on prescription drugs meant for daily intake can help you save money. An insurance coverage plan like Medicare Part D ensures you get generics at zero cost.

Also, chain pharmacies have plans to allow you to purchase 90 days’ worth of drugs at a discount. If possible, consider buying even a year’s supply of prescription drugs.

You receive your purchase via delivery or get it directly from a pharmacy. You must be cautious when purchasing medication in bulk since you can’t return it. Also, some physicians will not prescribe some types of drugs for you to buy in bulk.

Do Your Research and Ask for Help

The best way to save money on prescription drugs is to do everything you can to ensure you never need medication. However, sometimes you can’t do anything to prevent illness. It can come at the worst times when you don’t have enough money for health care.
Consider applying any of the tips above to help you save money on prescriptions. Ask your health care provider for help when needed, and spend the least amount possible on medication. Contact us at The Medicare Family to learn more about how to work with your Medicare and insurance options to save money on prescription drugs.

Sylvia Gordon, aka Medicare Mama®, is an expert on all things Medicare and Social Security. She is the 2nd Generation here at The Medicare Family and has served on the advisory boards of major insurance companies like UnitedHealthcare®, Cigna, and Anthem. In her free time, she can be found taking care of her animals (dogs, goats, peacocks, chickens), and reading a good book. Learn More.
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