Paying for Prescription Medications

Numerous studies show that as patients pay more for their prescription drugs—whether it’s through higher insurance co-pays or having to pay the full costs—many people decide to opt out of taking the drugs altogether, which can put them in danger for health complications.

But there are safer ways to cut costs than skimping on—or skipping —the medicines you need. To cut down on prescription costs:

  • Tell your doctor that you are concerned about the cost of your medications. He or she may be aware of ways to make your medications more affordable, such as prescribing just as effective drugs or informing you of discount programs.
  • Get your pharmacist involved- Every time you fill a prescription, talk to your pharmacist about lowering your drug costs. They may be able to suggest cheaper options. It often pays to check prices with several pharmacies as well as mail-order or online pharmacy options.
  • Ask for generics-Generic drugs are required by the Federal Drug Administration to have the same dose, strength, safety and efficacy as their brand-name counterparts and are usually cheaper.
  • Seek out patient assistant program- Free prescription drugs are available for people who can’t afford their medicines through patient assistance programs or PAPs. Visit for a list of these programs.
  • Work with your physician to eliminate drugs you don’t need-Do a yearly review of all medicines, with your doctor and pharmacist, to look for drugs that don’t appear to be working the way they should, drugs that overlap in their actions and drugs that may conflict with other medications.

More Advice for Lowering the Costs of Your Medications

  • Consumer Reports offers a report on the best drugs for less.
  • NeedyMeds, a non-for-profit, offers resources for prescriptions and tips for lowering the cost of care.
  • Partnership for Prescription Assistance is a program that offers a single point of access to more than 475 public and private programs to help patients without prescription coverage get the medicine they need for free or nearly free. Visit their website or call toll-free at 888-477-2669.
  • SelectCare Benefits Network is a patient advocate organization that specializes in helping uninsured, low income Americans access help with prescriptions on an ongoing basis from patient assistance programs.
  • Medicare beneficiaries can qualify for "Extra Help" with their Medicare prescription drug plan.
  • HealthWarehouse is a retail mail-order pharmacy based in Cincinnati. It is U.S. government regulated and has Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) certification selling products that are FDA approved. It sells more than 300 prescription drugs for $3.50, and offers free shipping. Pet medicine, over-the-counter drugs and medical supplies are also available. Visit their website or call 1-800-748-7001.

Resources reviewed June 2013

Getting Health Insurance
Advice for finding the right health insurance to fit your needs and budget, as well as information about health insurance reform.
Health Insurance: Glossary of Common Terms
Don’t know a deductible from a premium? Here’s a helpful guide to health insurance terms.
What Are Medicare and Medicaid?
Learn more about the U.S. government’s health insurance programs
How Much Will Your Health Care Cost?
It can be hard to figure out how much your health care will cost ahead of time. Here are some tips for preparing for the cost of your procedures and websites that can provide estimates for common procedures.
Paying for Prescription Medications
Prescription drugs can be expensive. Here’s how to get help paying for them and finding lower cost options.
Handling an Insurance Dispute
If you’re faced with an unexpected charge or your health insurance denies you coverage for a procedure or treatment, here are some steps you can take.


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