insurance

How to Save on Prescriptions

Opt for generics, take advantage of pharmacy loyalty-program discounts and look for coupons.

Your insurer’s $10 co-payment for a 30-day supply of drugs might sound like a good deal. But sometimes the cash price for generic drugs is less -- much less if you haven’t reached your deductible.

Several pharmacies, including Walmart and Target, charge as little as $4 for a 30-day supply of some generic drugs, or $10 for a 90-day supply. Costco tends to have an even longer list of low-cost generics and doesn’t require a membership to use the pharmacy, says David Belk, a physician in the San Francisco Bay Area, who lists prices at his Web site, TrueCostofHealthcare.org. You could also get a discount by signing up for a pharmacy’s loyalty program.

Before you hand your insurance card to the pharmacist, use your insurer’s or employer’s tools to check your out-of-pocket costs for your medications based on whether you have reached your deductible. Compare that with the pharmacy’s cash price. This strategy often saves money on generics, but it may not pay with brand-name drugs. “You may not be getting a better deal with cash, especially with the more expensive drugs, because the plan has negotiated a rate,” says Jim Yocum, executive vice-president at DRX, which develops online tools to compare drug costs.

There are some exceptions. Belk points out that a few brand-name drugs are sold over-the-counter, but certain sizes or generic equivalents require a prescription. Paying cash for the over-the-counter version of Nexium, for example, can cost a lot less than using your insurance for the prescription version, he says.

You may also be able to get a coupon from the drug manufacturer that reduces the brand-name cost by 30% to 40% if you pay cash, says Yocum. Ask your doctor about any special deals.

Most Popular

Yes, You Can Collect Social Security from an Ex-Spouse: Here’s How
social security

Yes, You Can Collect Social Security from an Ex-Spouse: Here’s How

It’s always smart to maximize your Social Security benefits, and if you are divorced, one way to do that might be to take them based on your ex’s earn…
May 13, 2021
Refunds for $10,200 Unemployment Tax Break to Begin This Week
Coronavirus and Your Money

Refunds for $10,200 Unemployment Tax Break to Begin This Week

The IRS will start issuing automatic refunds in mid-May to people eligible for the unemployment benefit tax exemption.
May 14, 2021
18 Worst Things to Buy at Dollar Stores
spending

18 Worst Things to Buy at Dollar Stores

These discount retailers stock plenty of bargains, but some of the merchandise isn’t worth the buck.
May 14, 2021

Recommended

Annuities: How They Could Work for You
Financial Planning

Annuities: How They Could Work for You

No doubt, investing in annuities can be a tough call for the active investor. But there comes a time when relinquishing some control in exchange for r…
May 6, 2021
Umbrella Insurance – Do I Need It?
insurance

Umbrella Insurance – Do I Need It?

You might think your home and auto insurance offer more than enough coverage, but if you’re wrong, one very bad day could wipe out your wealth. That’s…
May 5, 2021
Stimulus Plan Has Health Insurance Benefits, Too
Coronavirus and Your Money

Stimulus Plan Has Health Insurance Benefits, Too

The plan’s health care provisions could deliver big savings for early retirees and laid-off workers.
April 29, 2021
Surprise Medical Bills Are Coming to an End
health insurance

Surprise Medical Bills Are Coming to an End

With the No Surprises Act taking effect in 2022, patients will no longer live in fear of receiving an unexpected and exorbitant medical bill for emerg…
April 27, 2021