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    Ask for Help

    "A lot of times, we [doctors] don't know how much medicines cost," Meigs says. "Let your doctor know if you're having trouble paying for medications. He or she can look at alternative medications that might be less expensive."

    Check with your pharmacist about special programs or discount cards. "Some pharmacies offer plans where people can get 30-day prescriptions of certain medications for as low as $4. In some cases, patients may even get them for free," Jalloh says.

    Pharmacists will also know if drug companies are running promotions. They might also be able to give you coupons for certain drugs or manufacturers. These are things that your doctor wouldn't have known, but your pharmacist will. You might be able to save $50 or so, Rasmussen says.

    Comparison Shopping

    The price of a medication can vary widely from one pharmacy to another, too. Technology can make it easier to shop around. "Apps like GoodRx help to clarify the prices of medications at various pharmacies. This allows you to identify which pharmacy would give you the best deal for all of your medications," Jalloh says.

    When you shop online and get your prescription by mail, make sure you're buying from a legitimate and licensed source. Look for one that:

    • Has a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS) seal from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy or a ".pharmacy" address
    • Is registered with the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, www.cipa.com
    • Has high ratings and good reviews at pharmacychecker.com

    The price at a pharmacy outside of the U.S. may seem like a huge discount, but a great deal isn't one if you aren't really getting the drug you need.

    At some websites, you can pay a monthly fee in exchange for discounts. But "for the most part, these companies are charging you $29 per month to get you free programs," Rasmussen says. Talk to your pharmacist about prescription savings programs instead.

    Patient Assistance Programs

    Most drug companies offer patient assistance programs. These help you get free or reduced-cost medications.

    You'll have to qualify for the program, and each manufacturer has different standards. Send a note to the company through their website. Or ask your pharmacist for help reaching out to the right place.