Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Saving Money on Prescription Drugs - Little Known Tricks

One of the most positive results of being a news and information junkie is that I am constantly learning, especially about issues related to personal finance and economics. Monday, I was watching a segment from ABC’s “Good Morning America,” which spotlighted a family struggling with paying health care costs—particularly the cost of prescription drugs—in light of their unique circumstances. Although their circumstances are unique, the Florida family spotlighted in the piece represent the nearly 50% of Americans who need some form of prescription drugs (according to figures of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
However, the family in the news segment was lucky in one respect; ABC brought in a noted health care advocate and author, Michelle Katz, to help show them ways in which they might trim down the cost of prescription drugs. Watching the piece, I was slightly taken aback by some of the little-known ways which you and I as consumers can advocate on our own behalves in saving money on prescription drugs (see video below).

There are many websites dedicated to informing the public about ways to cut costs related to health care for the consumer. As an example, start here: Other places to begin searching online for ways to lower costs is to check out sites which focus on particular afflictions, such as Multiple Sclerosis or other blogs. In addition,the tips offered by Katz include:

1. Check your bill, like you would at a restaurant. 
Believe it or not, there are codes for your drugs, and billing departments often get them wrong. In helping the family, Katz found one of those wrong codes on their bill. The family was being charged for a higher priced drug. Fixing the code immediately saved them $1,200. 

2. Arm yourself with the Low RX App
Drug prices fluctuate like gas prices. This app tells you what the average cost is for a particular drug and its generic, and arms you with the phone numbers of every pharmacy in your area. You can call other pharmacies to comparison shop. The app also shows discounts. In some cases, you can get up to 75% off.

3. Go to big wholesalers, even if you’re not a member. 
The Low RX app revealed lower drug prices at Costco, which as it turned out, by law you can buy your prescription drugs there...even if you weren’t a member. Katz found the family's drugs at Costco for $100 less than elsewhere. 

4. Negotiate. 
If you go to smaller mom-and-pop pharmacies, you can wheel and deal to bring the price down. Bringing cash can increase your bargaining power. Instead of paying $30 for a prescription at a local pharmacy, the Florida family secured the same prescription for $12 – an $18 savings. 

5. You can go directly to the big drug companies
Katz called and emailed large drug companies on behalf of the Florida family. She kept at it for weeks, providing proof of the family’s financial situation and even suggested that the family might have to stop buying its particular drug altogether. 

6. Visit 
Needymeds is a nonprofit group that offers grants, vouchers and patient assistance through its website. 

7. Use an RX Access discount card. 
Together Rx Access offers savings on brand-name and generic prescription products to individuals and families without prescription drug coverage, according to its website. With the help of Michelle Katz, the Florida family in the ABC News segment lowered their monthly prescription drug bill from $20,000.19 to $1,252.28, saving them $18,747.91. 

If you're one of the nearly 50% of Americans who find themselves in need of prescription drugs, these tips should be a great starting point to lower drug costs.  I've already uploaded the Low RX App to my tablet, and it works like a charm.  And I hope to check out the other sites myself when (or if) I ever need them.
Learning is a good thing!


  1. Thank you for the blog:) Keep in mind when using apps that there are MANY out there and they are always improving. Unfortunately, because pharmaceutical prices at pharmacies are not "regulated" per say, the prices will fluctuate so much that even these apps cannot keep up. Best to use the app as a tool: get an ESTIMATE from the app and use it to price around as well as a few pharmacy locations (because some may not be listed, especially the "mom and pops"), and call around (this might even require you driving the the pharmacy and presenting your prescription). If you have a few prescriptions, don't assume because one is cheaper at a typical pharmacy, they all are; however, at the small pharmacies, you might be able to use that as a "negotiating tool".

    1. Thank you for that clarification Ms. Katz. I'm sure my readers will find any and all such insights you might have into the process of cutting drug costs useful. ;)

  2. I really appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thanks again.
    Wellness Pharmacy

  3. Really a nice and an informative edition over rx drugs. These drugs put no harm if being prescribed by doctors but if taken in an inadequate quantity, then the result comes out surely will be negative.

    Facts mentioned above over these drugs are actually genuine.

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