How to Lower Your Prescription Costs

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Posted on 05/13/2008

Are prescription costs making you feel a little ill? Prescription drugs can be pricey, especially if your insurance doesn't cover them. According to the American Medical Association, one in seven Americans is uninsured. But there are ways to get better without going broke. Here's a prescription for cutting costs at the pharmacy.

1. Learn to pharmacy hop. Be on the look out for prescription transfer coupons in your Sunday paper or here at Bargainist.com. You've probably seen them. They offer $10, $20, even $25 gift cards with a new or transferred prescription. Some stores will even accept a competitors coupon. So if a big name pharmacy chain is offering a $25 gift card for a prescription transfer, but you'd rather have a gift card to buy groceries, ask the pharmacy at your grocery store if they'll honor the same deal.

2. Not all pharmacies are alike. Medication costs can vary significantly from one pharmacy to the next. Make a few calls and see how much your meds cost other places.

3. Get a little help. Check out Free Medicine Program. Established by volunteers, Free Medicine Program helps families and people across the country reduce or eliminate their prescription bills by locating drug assistance programs they qualify for. According to their website, the majority of applicants have too much income to qualify for government assistance programs, but not enough to buy private prescription insurance. Here's how it works. Check to see if you meet the program's basic requirements, fill out a short form and send in $5. Volunteers will search for programs that can help you. If they can't find any, you'll get your $5 refunded. If they do find assistance you qualify, you'll pay less or nothing at all for your prescriptions.

4. Go generic. Several retailers are offering generic drugs at deep discounts. Stores like Target and Wal-Mart offer hundreds of generics for just $4 for a month supply. For the price of a latte you can stock up on a months worth of antibiotics and dozens of other drugs. And when you switch from a name brand drug to the generic the price drops big time. In 2004, the average price of a generic prescription drug was $28.74, while the average price of a brand-name prescription drug was $96.01, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

5. Ask for samples. Why pay for what you can get for free, right? Most doctor's offices stock samples of the drugs they prescribe. While your at the doctor's office, ask if they have any freebies available of the medicines you need.

By Alison Storm

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