Saving on drug costs: things you can do yourself
Most drug companies have drug savings programs for people with low to modest incomes and no insurance coverage. These programs offer savings on medicines either purchased at the pharmacy or mailed directly to you.
Check a centralized source-like the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) 1-888-4PPANOW-for information on hundreds of prescription savings programs. The PPA provides a single point of information on more than 475 public and private patient assistance programs, which include more than 180 programs offered by the pharmaceutical industry. They can help you find ways to save on over 2,500 medicines.
You can also call several local pharmacies to check on prescription drug prices. If you find a lower price than your pharmacy offers, ask if they'll match it.
You can usually order up to a three-month supply of your prescription medicine for less than what individual prescription refills would cost at a local retail pharmacy. If you use an Internet pharmacy service, be sure it carries the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program (VIPPS) seal to make sure it's a legitimate, licensed pharmacy.
Check your state's website for contact information—or call your state senator or your representative at the state capital.
- Can you take a non-prescription over-the-counter (OTC) medicine? Sometimes an OTC medicine is as effective as one that's prescribed—and costs less
- Starting out on a new prescription medicine? Ask if you can have a free sample or trial prescription, so you can buy fewer tablets. If you find out you don't want or need to continue the drug, you'll have saved money over buying a full prescription
- Can you take a generic drug instead of the name brand? Most of the brand-name, FDA-approved prescription drugs have generic versions. In fact, more than half of all US prescriptions—more than 1 billion a year—are for generic drugs. You could save 30% to 60%—or more
At least once a year, take all of your prescription medicines to your doctor or pharmacist to find out if cheaper versions are now available.
Chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma, and hypertension account for $3 out of $4 spent on healthcare. And newer, more effective medicines mean that more people with chronic diseases now live longer, and so are using more prescription drugs.
You can manage chronic diseases and improve your health by eating well, being active, getting regular check ups, and taking the medicines as your doctor prescribes. Not taking medications as your doctor tells you may make your conditions worse.