How To Save Money Shopping for Prescription Medications

Your first tip to save money is choosing the right way to shop for prescription drugs. With over 90% of the population taking some form of prescription medication or over-the-counter drug, doing a little bit of work now can save you big money in the future.

Even if you or a family member are not on regular or expensive medication at present, we recommend reading through this, because for most families it’s only a matter of time before someone requires permanent medication. Many of the changing healthcare regulations have impacted prescription drugs and it’s important for you to understand the changing landscape of the industry so you can avoid significant wasteful spending. 

In 2019 the Federal government implemented price transparency regulations for hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. As a result, these regulations led to the first ever halt on the increasing price of medication! Some medicines have even dropped in price.

When the presidential executive order required all prescription medications to have their prices posted for easy access for the consumer, the market began to decide how much the pills were worth. Up until this point, prices were determined by how much the pharmaceutical industry could coerce out of insurance companies and the consumer. 

Hey, that’s you. You are the consumer, and it’s time to push back. How do you push back? Well you have started the process by reading this article and now you are in the process of becoming an EHC – an Engaged Healthcare Consumer. 

Now, when consumers have the choice between a $700 brand name prescription and a $60 generic, people are choosing to save money and utilize the less expensive option.

Even if you have health insurance that covers prescription medications, you should ask if a generic or alternative would work for you. The pharmacist can give you the information on cost or direct you to where that information is.

Asking the pharmacist saved David a lot of money. When he was prescribed several medications for a heart condition, he asked about generics and saving money. Going through the different prescriptions, the pharmacist held up the one for aspirin. 

“We can fill this one for you if you like, but it’s going to be a $30 copay based on your insurance. Or, you could go to the aisle over there and pick up a 100 count OTC of the same exact thing for five bucks.”

And that’s not the only way you can save money on prescriptions. Many prescriptions have a cash payment option. Because the pharmacy does not have to do the extra paperwork to run through the insurance company, they can offer you a lower price for the prescription medication.

In some cases, especially for extremely high price medication, paying cash amounts to significant savings. Most drug companies have plans in place for hardship cases. Individual pharmacies are allowed to tap into this system for people who pay cash and distribute these medications for pennies versus what the insurance companies pay.

This is precisely why you should ask your doctor questions about any medication you have prescribed.

  • Is there a generic available?
  • How did you hear about this prescription?
  • Does the hospital system receive a better price for prescribing this medication?

This is especially true if you have children. Many industries, not just doctors, rely on a parent’s desire to make sure their kids are well taken care of and prescribe more expensive medications. 

Imagine being in the doctor’s office with your young child; they don’t feel good and just want to go home. Your doctor recommends a prescription, telling you it will make your child feel better quickly. You want the best for your child, don’t you? He asks. The faster they take it, the faster they get better.

The parental bias for wanting your kids to have the best could end up costing your wallet a significant amount. We’re not suggesting avoiding the medication they need, just researching generics and alternatives that can save you a little money. That’s where apps (see below) and asking the pharmacist questions can really save you money and get the help you need right away.

Merely asking these questions can make you an active participant in your healthcare or an Engaged Healthcare Consumer. In my books, we go over different ways to be an EHC – an Engaged Healthcare Consumer. You can also get more information on these tips and specific ways to implement them by downloading the Ten Free Tips to Spend Less on Healthcare. You can download these tips immediately by texting “JOSH” to 72000 –no strings attached. 

A final tip about talking to your doctor – review your prescription before leaving the doctor’s office. If you have any questions at all, discuss it with the doctor right then. It’s easier than waiting until you get to the pharmacy.

And don’t forget, many insurance companies and hospital systems have their own mail-order companies. So, be sure to shop around when you have the opportunity to get your medication. You might find that apps, mail-order, or even cash pay can save you significantly over using your insurance.

The most important tip for eliminating wasteful spending on medication is to utilize price comparison applications and websites. There are a bunch of them. The most well-known is likely GoodRX. GoodRx is so easy; you type in your address and the name of the medication and GoodRX lists the price of that medication at each of your local pharmacies, as well as mail order, delivery, and pharmacy savings club options. The site also offers you information on generics and gives coupons as well. You may also include your insurance information. 

Millions of people are starting to use these apps because it cuts down on errors, wait time, and doctor’s visits. And these apps allow people save significant amounts of money. It’s not just independent companies jumping in on this either. Pill Pack from Amazon hopes to use the same distribution network that made Amazon the dominant book distributor in the country. They want to make prescription medications accessible and responsive. Wal-Mart and Google are likely to join the mail order and app community as well. 

Here are some other applications you can try out to shop the price of prescription medications:

  • RxSaver – Prescription discounts and coupons.  
  • Blink Health Rx – Discount pharmacy.  
  • FamilyWize– Prescription discount card.  
  • ScriptSave– Prescription discounts and coupons. 
  • WellRx – Prescription discounts.  
  • SingleCare – Prescription savings.  
  • OneRx– Prescription discounts and coupons.

The only thing to watch for when you purchase medications based on recommendations on GoodRx is that depending on where you buy them, they may not be eligible to count against your Maximum Out of Pocket spending cap for your plan for the year since you could potentially be buying outside of the network. It still may save you money but take note. Also note that funds allocated pre-tax in your Health Savings Account (HAS) can be utilized to purchase medications as well. 

Finally, you may have heard that some folks acquire their pharmaceuticals from outside of the country as it is significantly cheaper. This can be true, but unless you have a specific expensive need, there are usually more cost-efficient options, as well as bypassing laws and red tape that complicates the process. Ping us at www.SpendLessOnHealthcare.org if you think that might be your best option and we can connect. 

There are multiple ways to save money on prescription medications. Start by signing-up for the Ten Free Tips to Spend Less on Healthcare by texting the word “JOSH” to 72000 to receive your free instant download. 

In summary, to make sure you are not overspending on drugs, utilize all the many tools available to you in modern society including: 

  • Inquire about generic options (or alternative) vs. name brand 
  • Ask about cash prices instead of just assuming your insurance co-pay is cheaper 
  • Ask the pharmacist what your medication options are
  • Check your insurance for a mail order option
  • Shop it! There are a ton of useful shopping apps 

The last bullet point here is the most critical as whether you do the rest or not, shopping apps tell you the exact price of medications at each pharmacy in your neighborhood, as well as the cost of mail order and same day delivery options. 

Don’t forget to get started by signing-up for the Ten Free Tips to Spend Less on Healthcare by texting the word “JOSH” to 72000 to receive your free instant download.