Are you paying too much for your meds? Did you know that the average American spends 40% more on prescription drugs than does the average Canadian? When compared to the average UK citizen, that figure goes up to 50%.
The question is, can you do anything about it? Or are you stuck with the predatory price-gouging practices of America’s leading drug manufacturers? Believe it or not, cheap meds are available if you know where to look.
When you’re ready to finally stop drug manufacturers from bleeding you dry, read on.
Get Cheap Meds with Discount Drug Programs
Some retailers in national mega-chains offer free or low-cost prescription drugs. They operate in such high volumes that they’re willing to cut their costs well below copays of most insurance plans. Yep, even Medicare insurance.
This isn’t an altruistic gesture. These stores have designed a model that sacrifices a short-term loss for a long-term gain. Their goal is to have you buy an annual membership and trust them to supply your future pharmaceutical needs.
It’s similar to some drug manufacturers’ patient assistance programs. Manufacturers slash prices of expensive drugs in exchange for big federal tax breaks.
There are downsides to these low-cost programs. They usually offer only high-volume generic drugs. Also, their drug formularies and tier pricing change frequently.
That means a drug might be given to you at a discount one month but not the next. Their prices are unreliable, and the store is under no legal obligation to continue their programs.
There’s another drawback. When you sign up for a membership, you agree not to submit a drug claim to your insurance company. This may create huge issues later.
The store in question might charge you higher prices for certain drugs than your insurance. That includes those Essential Health Benefits classified in the Affordable Care Act.
Finally, these programs may affect your overall care if you suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. If you don’t submit a claim to your insurer, they might not know what medications you’re taking. That’ll complicate your drug approvals in the future.
Stores Offering Discount Drug Programs
These are the most popular chains offering discount programs.
- Giant Eagle Supermarkets
- Meijer Stores
- Price Chopper
- Publix Supermarkets
- ShopRite Stores
- Sam’s Club
This isn’t an exhaustive list. Many smaller supermarkets and retail chains only supply a single state. The above list contains large chains covering at least 3 states.
Skip Name Brand Drugs
One of the most frequently asked questions about med-suppliers is whether the generic drugs they offer are as effective as their name-brand cousins. The answer is it depends.
Generic drugs are often “clinically equivalent” counterparts of brand name drugs. That means they were proven as effective in clinical trials. That doesn’t mean they’re as effective 100% of the time.
Generic drugs use the same active ingredients as brand name equivalents. But they may not include other ingredients that affect the outcome of the drug’s effectiveness. For instance, a brand name drug might include an ingredient that helps the body better metabolize the active ingredient.
Insurance companies pay substantially less for generic drugs. They pass those savings on to you.
HSAs and FSAs
Health savings accounts (HSAs) are one possibility to save for your medical expenses and reduce taxable income. You decide how much money you want to contribute to your HSA account each year. You’ll receive a debit card linked to your HSA account that you can use for eligible medical expenses.
- other qualified medical expenses
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) may also be used for medical expenses, vision care, and dental care. It works much the same as an HSA except you won’t need to buy a medical plan that pays costs upfront.
For those who cannot afford their medications, charity networks might be able to help. They provide assistance to insured people in certain income brackets who can’t cover the costs of prescription drugs.
Patient Access Network Foundation (PAN) is one such charity organization. They prove monetary grants once your application is approved.
You can also find charity assistance at your local level. Organizations like the Elks Club and Lions Club offer community members assistance with prescription costs.
Mail Order Pharmacies
Yep, you can order meds by mail too. The most common choice is the 90-day supplier. These online pharmacies mail 90-days’ worth of your prescription medication to your door.
Insurance companies love 90-day pharmacies because it reduces their costs. These pharmacies cut out the middleman, aka the brick-and-mortar retail store. The drugs are shipped directly from the warehouse.
The only big drawback is that you must order at least a 3-month supply. So, if you’re just trying to find cheap RX bars online for your 21-day fix this is a terrible option. On the other hand, if you don’t mind getting a 3- or 6-month supply of meds all at once, it’s a great alternative.
Yes, you can use coupons to find more than the best prices on RX bars. Believe it or not, pharmaceutical companies offer coupons for brand name drugs. Check their websites to see what’s available.
Nowadays you can find cheap meds in several ways, but it requires a little research. We recommend you start with generic drugs and mail-order pharmacies. They’re the simplest approaches and most effective with insurance companies.
If you have additional questions, contact your inexpensive medication supplier today.