If you’ve been watching the news at all in the last few years, you’ve probably been hearing all the complaints about how expensive medications are getting – and no one knows this better than our elderly population.
Here are some suggestions for saving money on prescription drugs.
- Enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan on time. Choosing to delay enrolling in a plan when you’re first eligible to do so may result in a late enrollment penalty being added every month, in addition to your monthly premium.
- Switch to generic, if available. Doctors love to try out new medications when they come out, often hoping to find something that works better for you. These can come at a high cost. Generic or therapeutic alternatives can sometimes take care of your health issue at a lower cost. Talk to your doctor about different options.
- Using mail order to get a 90-day supply can sometimes be less expensive, while also being convenient.
- Switching from two tablets at a lower strength to one tablet at a higher strength can sometimes be less expensive. Also, your doctor could prescribe double the dosage and you could split the pills, as long as your doctor approves of that.
- Check your Part D prescription drug plan to see if they have preferred retail pharmacies. Often preferred retail pharmacies can be less expensive than standard retail pharmacies.
- If you’re approaching or are in the Coverage Gap, also known as the “donut hole,” you may consider paying out of pocket and using a discount card or the pharmacy discount program. While this won’t count towards the coverage gap totals, if you’re not going to come out of the gap, you might pay less than your drug plan coinsurance. Shop around for the less expensive price.
According to Medicare, “a Medicare beneficiary does have a right to purchase a drug outside of a prescription drug plan at his or her discretion.” You need to let pharmacies know you want to use their prescription discount program, instead of your Medicare insurance. You can also compare prices using a program such as AMACdiscountRX.com.
- There are some generics that may cost less paying out of pocket than through your insurance. Shop around for discount programs. You might consider using AMAC’s Discount RX program.
- See if you qualify for Extra Help from Social Security by calling 1-800-772-1213 or go to benefitscheckup.org.
- Pay for medications using money from a Health Savings Account (HSA). Also, if you itemize on your taxes, you may be able to deduct eligible medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income if you’re 65 or older.
- See if you qualify for a pharmacy assistance program from a manufacturer, church or private foundation. Check out needmeds.org. Local or state nonprofits may offer assistance through SHIP – state health insurance assistance program. Find a center at shiptacenter.org.
Remember, every year, during the Annual Enrollment Period which is October 15 through December 7, you can shop for a new drug plan for a January 1 effective date of the following year. You may find a different plan that will be less expensive for the coming year.