Saving Money On Your Prescriptions
Nearly half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug in any given month, according to the Centers for Disease Control. One in five of us takes three or more prescription medications. Because of this fact, the double-digit price increases expected for prescription medication in 2017, as reported by The Fiscal Times, are of significant interest to many. These four tips can teach you how to save money on your prescription drugs. Pay less for prescriptions now.
Get Prescription Drug Coverage
Prescription drug coverage can help lower the cost of many prescription medications. You can get prescription drug coverage from a Medicare Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage Plan with Medicare prescription drug coverage.
Each prescription drug plan has its own list of covered medications, known as a formulary. Not all drugs are listed on every prescription drug plan’s formulary, so if you want to save money, it’s important to make sure that each drug you’re prescribed is covered by your chosen plan. Some drugs are automatically covered when they’re prescribed, while others are only covered under certain circumstances, like if you’re using them to treat a specified condition or if you’ve tried a preferred drug first. Call your insurance carrier for a copy of its formulary to make sure you’re adequately covered.
Many prescription drug plans have a tiered formulary. The Medicare Part D drug costs of medications at lower tiers typically cost less than the medications placed at higher tiers. If your physician thinks you need a drug at a higher tier, you or your physician can ask the plan for an exception to reduce the co-payment.
Prescription drug plans can change their formularies at any time. However, according to Medicare guidelines, the plan must take one of the following actions if a change concerns one of your prescribed drugs:
- Provide written notice at least 60 days before the change
- Provide written notice and a 60-day supply of the drug under the previous plan rules when you refill your prescription
Most prescription drug plans have a coverage gap. This means that once you have spent a certain amount on covered prescription drugs ($3,700 in 2017), you’ll face more out-of-pocket expenses.
Some plans offer additional gap coverage. While they typically charge a higher monthly premium than more basic prescription drug plans, these plans may be worthwhile for some people with significant prescription drug costs. These prescription medication plans do not cover all drugs in the Medicare Part D coverage gap, so make sure you ask whether yours will be covered before signing up for one of these more expensive plans.
Switch to Generic of More Affordable Drugs
There are usually several drugs on the market that can treat any condition. These include premium brand-name drugs, less expensive brand-name drugs, and generic drugs. Speak to your doctor to see whether there are generic or less expensive brand-name drugs that could work as well as your current prescription medications. According to ConsumerReports.org, name-brand drugs can cost up to 90 percent more than generic alternatives, so the savings that come from switching drugs can be significant.
Join a Pharmaceutical Assistance Program
Your prescription drugs could be further subsidized by joining a pharmaceutical assistance program. These programs fall into two major categories:
- Pharmaceutical company programs. You must already be enrolled in Medicare Part D to join one of these programs. In addition, usually you must spend a minimum amount and meet income requirements. The Medicare website helps you search for pharmaceutical company programs for your prescribed medications. A great place to browse is Needymeds.org
- State programs.These pay drug plan premiums and/or medication costs. The Medicare website makes it easy to search for programs offered in U.S. states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Apply for Extra Help
Medicare and Social Security have a program called Extra Help, which helps people with limited income and countable resources afford prescription drug costs. For 2017, Extra Help reduces the cost of generic medications to no more than $3.30 and brand-name medications to no more than $8.25. People with Extra Help also have no coverage gap.
You can apply for Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug plan costs:
- In person at your local U.S. Social Security office
- By calling U.S. Social Security hotline on 800-772-1213 or 900-325-0778 (TTY service)
- Online via the U.S. Social Security Administration website
No one wants to pay more than they need for prescription drugs. Share this post with your social networks to ensure your loved ones get the savings on prescription drugs they deserve.