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Reducing Medication Costs

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How can your insurance plan help you save money? continued...

If you have a choice between plans, check what your copayment for prescription drugs will be, the maximum amount the plan will pay in a year, and other details. Choose the plan that best suits your needs. When you buy medicines, find out which payment option will be the least expensive. Some things to consider include whether there is a generic version of a preferred medicine and whether an over-the-counter equivalent costs less than your copayment. Bring a copy of your health care plan's list of preferred prescription drugs to your next doctor appointment. And keep the list with your chart. That way, you and your doctor can see which medicines cost the least on your plan. Remember, having the right information can save you time and money.

To learn more about insurance, see the topic Understanding Health Insurance.

Are prescription medicines always needed?

There may be an over-the-counter alternative for your prescription medicine. For example, nonprescription naproxen (Aleve) is a fraction of the cost of the prescription equivalent Naprosyn. (Generic versions of over-the-counter medicines can save you even more money.) Often nonprescription equivalents of prescription medicines come in lower strengths, so get instructions from your doctor or pharmacist on how to take them.

In the case of antibiotics, research has found that they are not always needed. For example, up to two-thirds of people who have acute sinusitis improve on their own without antibiotic treatment.1 Your doctor might advise you to take a wait-and-see approach before you buy expensive antibiotics.

Can you save money by purchasing prescription medicines from Canada? Is it safe?

The answer to the first question is "Yes." Many brand-name prescription medicines, either over the Internet, by mail order, or in person, cost less from Canadian pharmacies than from their U.S. counterparts. Whether it is legal to buy them remains controversial.

The FDA warns that the safety of drugs bought from other countries cannot be ensured. But many doctors say that Canada also demands safety and efficacy for medicines. These doctors say they would rather have their patients buy medicines from Canada than skip doses because they can't afford their medicines. U.S. citizens have been buying medicines in Canada for years, although federal law prohibits the practice.

Talk to your doctor if you decide to import your medicines. And be sure to buy only from licensed Canadian pharmacies and wholesalers.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 13, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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