7 Ways to Save on Prescriptions

Spending on prescription drugs has reached stratospheric levels, topping $457 billion in the U.S.

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Spending on prescription drugs has reached stratospheric levels, topping $457 billion in the U.S. last year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Most large employers point to the cost of specialty medications as the single biggest impetus for rising health care costs, with no relief in sight.

In the latest survey by the National Business Group on Health, large employers predict the cost to provide health benefits will rise by 6% in 2017, but they expect a 16.8% increase in spending for specialty medications.

Why are costs rising so fast? More people are living longer with chronic conditions, and drug companies have been introducing new specialty medicines that are expensive to manufacture and administer. They’ve also been hiking prices for other brand-name drugs—with some eye-popping examples grabbing headlines. Finally, fewer patents have expired recently, slowing the introduction of new and cheaper generics.

Even with a generous insurance policy, you could end up paying hundreds of dollars a month for your medications, but you will probably have an opportunity to reassess your coverage soon. If you have health insurance through your employer, you generally pick a plan in October or November. Open enrollment runs from November 1 to January 31 for Obamacare exchanges and from October 15 to December 7 for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage The following strategies can help you cut your drug costs. Keep them in mind as you compare plans during open-enrollment season.

SEE ALSO: 11 Costly Medicare Mistakes

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.