How to Afford Your Medicines and Support Your Health | Local business

The cost of prescription drugs in the United States may be enough to make you sick.

What you pay varies enormously depending on the drug, pharmacy, insurance plan, and deductible, among many other factors. A drug that may have been cheap or at least affordable the last time you filled it may be much more expensive or not covered at all the next time.

Often, people have no idea how much a prescription will cost until they get to the pharmacy counter, says Leigh Purvis, director of healthcare and access costs for the AARP Institute of Public Policy.

However, finding a way to afford the medicines is important. People who do not take their medicines as prescribed due to the cost could get sick or die.

“What is potentially a relatively small problem today, like high cholesterol, could turn into a much bigger problem like a heart attack down the road if you don’t treat it,” Purvis says.

Check with your doctor and insurance plan

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Your doctors may not know how much your medications cost you, since they deal with dozens of insurance plans with different drug formulas or lists and how they’re covered, Purvis explains. Also, insurers can make deals with some pharmacies, so a drug that costs $ 60 in one could cost $ 160 in another.

If offering a drug is a challenge, your doctor may be able to suggest alternatives, such as a generic or a different type of drug. Two more questions you can ask: Whether a drug you’ve been taking for a while is still needed and what lifestyle changes could reduce or eliminate the need for prescriptions.

If you have insurance, carefully review your drug coverage options every year at the time of your open enrollment, that annual period in the fall when you choose your health insurance for the following year. Make a list of all your medications with their dosages and check how they are covered by each plan. Insurers change their forms regularly, so you may need to change plans to get the best coverage. And even if your medications are covered, you’ll typically have to pay out of your own pocket for prescriptions until you reach your deductible.

Your insurer or pharmacy may offer a mail order option to reduce costs, but don’t assume it’s the best option. Shopping around could offer significant savings.

Look at the prices online

Start your online search. The number of online pharmacies has exploded in recent years, giving you far more savings opportunities.

Amazon launched a full-service pharmacy in 2020, joining more established dispensaries, such as and In addition to these, several limited-service startups, including Cost Plus, GeniusRx, Honeybee, Ro Pharmacy, and ScriptCo, offer deals on generic drugs.

Startups don’t usually take insurance, but their prices can be lower than typical co-payment, according to Consumer Reports. For example, the consumer research organization found that a 30-day supply for 20 milligrams of atorvastatin, a cholesterol drug, ranged from $ 14.60 on Amazon and $ 13.99 on, to $. 3 on Honeybee and just 54 cents on ScriptCo. In contrast, according to KFF, the non-partisan health care think tank formerly known as the Kaiser Family Foundation, insurance co-payments for workers with prescription drug coverage averaged $ 11 to $ 12 last year for less expensive drugs, including many generics.

Your savings can be offset by membership fees – the Amazon Prime membership, which you’ll need if you want the lowest prices, is $ 139 per year or $ 14.99 per month, while ScriptCo charges $ 140 per year or $ 50 per quarter. Costco has a membership fee of $ 60 per year, but you don’t need to be a member to order prescriptions online or at its warehouses.

Investigate other discounts

GoodRx has a website and app that allows you to compare prices from nearby pharmacy chains and provides free coupons that can save up to 80% off the list price. You’ll find another price comparison tool that includes local pharmacies at NeedyMeds, a nonprofit that helps people find drug manufacturing discount programs and other ways to cut drug costs. Additionally, several chains including Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger, and HEB have discount programs.

An often overlooked alternative for Medicare beneficiaries is the Extra Help program, which aims to help older people with limited income and resources pay for their medications, Purvis says. You can apply online or by calling 800-772-1213.

Watch out for drug interactions

Finding the best prices can take a lot of time and effort. And people who shop aggressively for low-cost drugs could face a hidden risk if they get multiple drugs from different pharmacies, Purvis warns. Without a single pharmacist overseeing their care, they risk potentially harmful drug interactions.

You can use an online drug interaction checker like that from WebMD, but ideally you should ask your primary care physician or pharmacist to review the full drug list at least once a year.

“Making sure someone is keeping an eye on the big picture cure is really important,” says Purvis.

FILE – This undated file photo provided by NerdWallet shows Liz Weston, columnist for the personal finance website How much you pay for a prescription drug varies enormously depending on the drug, pharmacy, insurance, and other factors. Finding a way to afford prescriptions can be crucial, as people who do not take their medicines as prescribed due to the cost could get sick or die. To lower the cost of medications, ask your doctor if you can take a generic version or make lifestyle changes to reduce the need for a prescription.

Uncredited – disposable flyer, NerdWallet

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