published Saturday, July 27th, 2013

Consumer Watch: How to save money on prescription costs


by Ellen Phillips

It seems the older I become, the more medications I'm forced to take. Do you have any ideas how I can save on prescription costs?

— Paul Pill

Dear Mr. Pill: Being a "boomer" myself, I certainly empathize with your financial dilemma, and thanks to ShopSmart, I can offer some solutions to your prescription woes.

1. Ask your doctor for samples. Believe me, he or she has a closet full, compliments of pharmaceutical reps. A few samples of a new drug to see if it really does the trick or an antibiotic for a 10-day regimen can save you several up to many dollars. My internist is a great believer in this type of help and, hopefully, yours is, too.

2. Ask for generics. Most insurance companies actually demand generics for the most part these days so prescribers shouldn't have a problem with "normal" prescriptions assuming they work as well as the brand name. If there's no generic available, though, check the manufacturer's website for coupons and/or discounts.

3. Mail order saves money by, usually, supplying a 30-day supply that costs a lot less than at most walk-in pharmacies.

4. Go to Costco or Sam's Club. You don't even have to be a member to fill a prescription. Just tell the person manning the entrance why you're there.

5. Check your local supermarket. Certain stores, such as Kroger and Publix, fill some generic antibiotics for free.

6. Consider access card. If you don't have drug coverage, aren't on Medicare, and have a four-person income that's less than $90k, you may qualify for the Together RX Access card. It offers discounts on both brand-name and generic drugs. Check www.togetherrxaccess.com and also go online to www.pparx.org.

7. Use a pill splitter if your doc says it's an option for the drug you're taking. You may be able to fill some scripts for half as many pills at twice the strength and then split them in two.

8. And, finally, shop around. Even those folks with a prescription insurance plan can save money on commonly prescribed generic meds if they take a hard look at local retailers.

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears every Saturday.

about Ellen Phillips...

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business.

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