Monday, November 28, 2005

The Prescription Lowdown...Finding cheaper alternatives

If you know anyone who needs help with saving money on prescription drugs, this is an excellent article.

By: Amy Allen Clark from the dollar stretcher

Prescription medication is an expense that many families cannot afford. If you do not have an insurance plan that will cover your prescriptions and are a low-income family, then you are not alone. Fortunately, there are programs available to assist you with your medications, but finding them can be a struggle.
For many years, we went without coverage for our prescriptions and it was a very difficult time for our family financially. Making our six hundred dollar a month health insurance payment was enough to sink us and, to add insult to injury, our prescriptions were not included in this unreal price tag. Not having prescription coverage was not an issue for my husband because he was healthy and rarely needed any medication, but that was not the case for my son and myself. The first year of my son's life was filled with illness after illness and, being his mother, I got just about everything my son had along with him. Keeping the two of us healthy and all of the prescriptions that I took on a daily basis added up to a huge chunk of change that our family just did not have. At times, we went without medications or we were at the complete mercy of our doctor and his samples stash.
During this time, I started doing some research on more affordable ways that we could purchase our prescriptions without completely breaking the bank. Through my research, I discovered a few options that would help us afford our medicines while still being able to make our other monthly expenses.
Communicate With Your Doctor
If you are without prescription coverage, it is important to have a good relationship with your doctor. Your doctor can truly be your greatest alley and can help you in a variety of ways.
If your doctor starts you on a new prescription drug, there
are a series of questions you can ask to make sure you get the best deal.
Begin by asking your doctor if he has any free samples you can have to try the medication. Explain your insurance situation and see if your doctor will offer you the medication for free. If your doctor does not have any samples for you to take home, ask him if he could call the drug representative from that company to send some samples to you. These drug representatives stop in regularly to restock their supply and are happy to get more clients under their belt. This can be a win-win situation for all the parties involved.
If samples are unavailable, ask your doctor if you can have a "trial prescription," so you can buy fewer of the tablets at first. This can be a good way to find out if a medication will work for you and also to see if you can tolerate any nasty side effects. If the drug does not work for you, you will not have invested in a month's supply that you will be unable to use.
There are also specific questions that you can ask about the medications you are taking. For example, ask your doctor if there is a generic equivalent to the medication you are taking because you are exploring less expensive alternatives. If there are no generic equivalents to this medication, you can also ask about over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Sometimes, there are OTC medications you can take that will achieve the same results as the actual prescription drug.
Another question you can ask is if you could buy a double dosage of the medication, in pill form, and split the tablets in half for your regular dosage. There are many prescriptions you can purchase that can easily be halved. This can result in a fifty-percent savings on your medication.
Your doctor may also know about specific aid from the drug manufacturer. Many prescription companies have programs to give medications to patients who have no way to pay for their prescription drugs. Programs vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but all require your doctor to submit the application for you. Explore this route with your doctor and see what the company requirements are and if this type of aid is available to you and your family.
Finally, check in yearly with your doctor to see if cheaper versions of your medications have become available. Many of us review our bills and insurance policies yearly, so add this to your agenda and you may reap the rewards of a few dollars saved.

Buy Online: Online stores can offer a lot of savings for their customers, particularly Canadian pharmacies where drug prices are much cheaper (savings of up to half on many prescriptions). Whether you buy American or not, you must make sure that you research the company well to ensure that the company is not a fake.
Examples of things to look for are a toll free number, real operators who answer their phone, a physical company address, and a secure website to do your shopping. You will also want to make sure the pharmacy is approved by the organization that governs the state/country where the pharmacy is located.

State Assistance Make sure to investigate what your state offers in assisting with the cost of your prescription drugs. These programs are typically available to the elderly, disabled, and low-income families. You can obtain information about these programs through your state's website or by calling the office of your state senator or representative.

Additional Resources: These are a few sites that you can check for additional information, for free, on medical assistance programs:
Needy Meds (http://www.needymeds.com/) is designed to provide information about patient assistance programs which provide no cost prescription medications to eligible participants.
Rx Outreach (http://www.rxassist.org/) is a new Patient Assistance Program developed by Express Scripts Specialty Distribution Services, Inc. (ESSDS). The program provides qualified low-income individuals and families with access to generic versions of brand name medications.
Partnership for Prescription Assistance (http://www.pparx.org/) brings together America's pharmaceutical companies, doctors, other health care providers, patient advocacy organizations and community groups to help qualifying patients who lack prescription coverage get the medicines they need through the public or private program that's right for them. Many will get them free or nearly free. Its mission is to increase awareness of patient assistance programs and boost enrollment of those who are eligible.
Together Rx Access (http://www.togetherrxaccess.com/) is a card that has been created to help qualified individuals and families without prescription drug coverage to save on brand- name prescription drugs and other prescription products, as well as save on a wide range of generic drugs. This card is available to those who are ineligible for Medicare, have no prescription drug coverage (public or private), and families who meet certain income requirements. This program is only available to legal US residents.

The sites above are your best bet for finding this information, but do not be afraid to ask your doctor, the drug company, or your pharmacy about assistance programs. You will find there are great savings in simply asking and exploring for cheaper alternatives. ________________________
Amy Allen Clark is a stay-at-home mother of a three-year-old son and is expecting their second child in December. She is founder and creator of MomAdvice.com (http://www.momadvice.com/). Her web site is geared towards mothers who are seeking advice on staying organized, living on a budget, and for those seeking work-at-home employment. The author resides in Granger, Indiana and her hobbies include reading, writing, and cooking. Please visit her web site for more information on these various topics for mothers.

For those of you who do not qualify for drug assistance you can purchase a discount plan that will give you 25 to 50% off discounts on perscription drugs. Check out my website for further details. www.mybenefitsplus.com/lstern Get a dental, vision, perscription and chiropractic plan for one low price.

14 Comments:

At 4:18 AM, Blogger Pragmatician said...

You should get a Job with some sort of social services.
I'm blessed to live in a country where the country proves medical insurance for its citizens.
I'm shocked that in a great country like America this isn't the case.

 
At 5:40 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Great post, very informative :)

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Excellent and informative post.

My husband asks for double dosages, and has a pill cutter. There was an entire segment done on this on Good Morning America last week. It does save money.

 
At 10:47 AM, Blogger T. F. Stern said...

“I'm blessed to live in a country where the country proves medical insurance for its citizens.” You then asked why it was that the United States of America didn’t have such a program.

Have you seriously thought about what you said? Who pays for that medical program? I have news for you, it is NOT the government. Government gets its funding for all programs, including medical, from taxes that it collects from a segment of society which pays for ALL of those programs. So when you say, “I’m blessed”, be sure to find out who you are saying thank you to. It might well be your neighbor who is bending over the barrel to pay his taxes whether he wants to fund such programs or not.

Here in the US, we are not far behind in the medical entitlement programs. It is unfortunate that you have associated the theft of money from one of your citizens which pays for a program that truly does benefit another and called it a blessing.

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I have to take Prevacid for acid reflux for the next four months; I've been at it for two months already.

My cost is $100 per month. Without insurance, it would be $420 per month.

I grumble beacuse I'm paying so much out of my pocket, but I can imagine those who are not insured. They just wouldn't get the prescription filled.

I'm not for nationalized medicine; I've experienced it first-hand and would not recommend it. But, we're out-of-whack, too.

I hope somebody cand find the right balance to move us in the right direction

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Fred, Usually people on a low carb diet have very little acid reflux. Hummmmm...When I went on the diet it pretty well cured my acid reflux. When I went off the diet, my acid reflux came back. I can control it if I don't eat after 7:00pm.

I wish there was a way to level out the cost of prescriptions. Wouldn't it be great.

Socialized medicine scares the heck out of me. I want to be able to get treatment when it is needed and not have the government telling my doctor what he can do and not do in my treatment.

 
At 12:28 AM, Blogger Mountain Mama said...

Several Pharmaceuticals provide meds free or at a greatly reduced price to approved low income patients. This is a God send for many elderly who strive to make ends meet on Social Security. Otherwise they would have to go without life saving meds. Talk to your doctor for more info.
In my town I have found that Costco pharmacy has the best prices for meds and Rite-Aid the highest.

 
At 6:20 AM, Blogger Corry said...

This is a great post. If you don't mind I would like to refer to it on my blog. I am sure many of my readers would like to know this info.

God's Grace.

 
At 2:33 PM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Mountain mama, Costco is one of the best places to get reduced prices on prescriptions. You do not have to be a member to get you prescription. Just let them know at the door that you are going to the pharmacy and they will let you in....I have an article about the prices at Costco.

corry, you are more than welcome to share this information with your friends. Remember, we are all trying to save money.

Barbara, I have told my dauthter about getting a double dose and she is going to talk to her doctor about her migraine medicine. Thanks.

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger Big Dave T said...

I wonder, since you're down south, whether it's beneficial to get prescriptions from Mexico. I know some folks who went to Mexico to get cheaper dentures.

I think prescriptions are vastly oversold in this country, due to the overzealous promotion by the pharmaceutical industry. A best seller currently offers herbal and other alternatives. Not a bad idea IMO.

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger Running2Ks said...

I would like to add that people may want to consider some alternatives to medicine.

I'll give a brief example--I was on purple pills for reflux, headed for a future surgery when the pills would eventually fail me. I saw a chiropractor, took some supplements, and the problem has been gone for years.

Anyway it is another option for some people to seek alternative care. These suggestions you posted are very helpful, as always :)

 
At 10:13 PM, Blogger Running2Ks said...

One more thing--if you can mail order your Rx through your insurance, they'll give you a discount (a big one, sometimes 3 months for the price of one).

 
At 10:44 PM, Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Running2ks, Mail order programs are great. You can save quite a bit with them.

 
At 5:57 AM, Blogger Live, Love, Laugh said...

stopped back by to print this out for the boys at the Ranch. Thanks!

 

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