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How to Get Medicines for Less

The best way to reduce your prescription drug costs is to follow a healthier lifestyle. Improving your diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking can improve your health enough that you may be able to give up or take lower doses of expensive medicines.

The following tips from the FDA can help you cut your prescription costs by a lot.

Ask for generics

If your healthcare provider prescribes a brand-name drug, always ask if there’s a drug in the generic form. Generics cost 30% to 80% less, on average, than brand names. They also usually have lower insurance copays.

Generics that are sold in the U.S. have to meet the same FDA quality and performance standards as the same brand-name drug.

Shop around

Prices can differ considerably from neighborhood pharmacies, large retail chains, and online sources. Many pharmacies offer some generic prescriptions for as little as $4 for a 30-day supply. There may be restrictions or limitations, so ask for details.

If your health insurance has a drug plan, include it in your cost comparison. If you use an online pharmacy, be sure it is licensed in your state. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if financial assistance is available for your medicine or condition. If so, remember that there may be restrictions. 

Split the difference

Some pills shouldn’t be split, such as those with time-release coatings. But depending on what you take, you may be able to cut your costs. Ask your healthcare provider if it's OK to split a higher-dosage version of your medicine. If you can do this, be sure to use a pill-splitter device. Don't break pills with your fingers as they may break unevenly and result in an incorrect dose.

Order in bulk

If you take a medicine daily, buying a 90-day supply instead of a 30-day refill can reduce fees for filling the medicine or copays.

Ask for substitutes

If you’re taking a brand-name drug that does not have a generic available, ask your healthcare provider if you can switch to a less expensive drug in the same category.

In some cases, you may even be able to take an over-the-counter (OTC) drug instead of a prescription.

Do the math

Find out from your prescription drug plan what your out-of-pocket expenses will be when filing your prescriptions.

Online Medical Reviewer: Holloway, Beth, RN, MEd
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2021
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