Friday, June 20, 2008

Saving Money on Prescriptions

In most discussions concerning the rising costs of our company’s medical insurance, our agent gives the aging population of our workforce and their ever increasing quantity of prescription maintenance medications as one of the contributing factors. To help our employees manage these costs his assistant gave a presentation on “Ways to reduce the cost of prescription drugs”.

Suggestions given:
Ask the pharmacist how much the prescription would cost without your insurance card. I was utterly shocked to hear if a prescription costs $6.99 and you handed them your drug card, the pharmacist may charge you the $10.00 co-pay instead of the actual lower $6.99 cost. Employees at her firm discovered this was happening when their company switched to an HSA insurance plan and employees began paying the full cost of prescriptions out of their own pocket. (Later many of our employees did check the cost of their prescription drugs only to find the actual cost to be well above their co-pay).

Ask for free samples at your doctors’ office. Drug reps hand out samples to doctors weekly. Most clinics save them for the needy, so you may have to ask for your free samples.

Go Generic. When a drug loses its patent, other companies can sell the drug at deeply discounted rates. If there is no generic, ask your doctor if there is another form or an older form that is less expensive. Pharmaceutical companies continually refine drugs to keep customers on the brand name drugs longer.

Split the pill. Pharmaceutical companies often charge the same amount per pill regardless of its strength. (Example- Lipitor 20mg and 40mg cost exactly the same.) Buying ½ the number of pills and splitting them saves money. Note: not all medications can be split, ask your doctor.

Pharmacies are business – yes, you can negotiate pricing with your pharmacy. Shop around for competitive pricing. (Don’t forget Wal-Mart has $4 prescriptions on certain meds).

Mail Order – If you need your medications on an ongoing basis, check out your mail order drug program, save on co-pay and have them delivered to your front door.

I recently attempted to read the book, “Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs” by Melody Peterson. Unfortunately as much as I wanted to read this book, I wasn’t able to read more than 50 pages because it was just too darned depressing. What I did read helped me formulate a cost saving suggestion of my own:

Do not watch, read or listen to any advertisements for prescription drugs; not only are the pharmaceutical companies buying off our doctors but are using advertisements to convince us we have medical conditions we don’t have and to persuade us to ask our doctor to prescribe the latest most expensive wonder drug when a much cheaper generic version would work just as well.

Enough Said.

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