About half of Americans take at least one prescription drug. If you're one of them, you've probably noticed that prescription medications can be quite expensive, and costs are rising.
You've got resources to help you save money while still putting your health first. For starters, your doctor and pharmacist can be extremely helpful -- if you ask. But if you don't speak up, they'll never know.
These medications have the same active ingredients as brand-name drugs, but often at a much lower cost. "It's the first place to start," says Reid Rasmussen, a consumer health expert with 25 years of health care insurance and administration experience. "It's possible that the non-generic works better for you, but by all means start with the generic, always."
The process is easy: If your medication is available as a generic, the pharmacist will automatically give you that version.
"In general, generics are cheaper, but there are some exceptions to the rule," says John Meigs, MD, spokesman for the American Academy of Family Physicians. If a generic is too expensive, it's worth asking your doctor about other treatment options.
Get the Most Out of Your Insurance
You pay for health insurance, so take advantage of it. Each insurance company has a list of drugs that they do and don't cover, called a formulary. But don't bother trying to make sense of it, Rassmussen says. It's much easier to simply call your insurance company and ask about the drugs you take.
And if you get to the pharmacy and find out a drug is too expensive or isn't covered, he recommends you pick up the phone. Say something like, "I went to fill this and my pharmacist said it's not covered. Is there an alternative?" There might be a similar medication that your plan will pay for.
You could try getting a higher dose and splitting it in half, suggests Mohamed Jalloh, PharmD, a spokesman for the American Pharmacists Association. "Some insurance companies charge based upon the quantity of medications," he says, "so by doubling the strength of a medication and cutting it in half, you may only be charged for 15 whole tablets instead of 30 whole tablets." (Run the idea past your doctor or pharmacist first, since some pills shouldn't be split.)