How to Save Money at Pharmacies

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No one likes sticker shock at the pharmacy. You might think that because you’re paying for something that the doctor ordered, you have no other options. In some cases, the price is the price, but you do have options a lot of the time. Here are my favorite ways to save money at the pharmacy. 

Ask for larger prescription quantities

As with other products, buying your prescriptions in bulk can save you money in the long run. Rather than purchasing a 30-day quantity of your meds, ask whether your provider can write a prescription for a 90-day supply instead. Not only will you save time and effort, the cost is typically lower for the larger amount.

Buy in bulk

Along those lines, if you’re buying OTC items that you go through quickly, like feminine care supplies, paper products, pain medicine, or vitamins, it might make sense to buy those in larger quantities at a big box store, wholesale club, or on Amazon. Big box stores and wholesale clubs often have pharmacies, too. It’s worth comparing prices for your meds while you’re there.

Go generic

Brand names are not your only option when it comes to prescriptions. When a doctor prescribes you a medication, ask whether a generic version is an option – more often than not, it is. FDA-approved generic drugs have the same dose, strength, and quality, so there’s no reason not to go generic next time you fill your script.

Ask for samples

If your doctor is prescribing you something new for an ailment, ask if they have samples on hand. Samples are free and are a good way to a) make sure the medicine works for you and b) could be anything from a tiny trial size to a full size. While you’re at it, ask your doctor if she or he has any coupons for the drug they are prescribing.

Shop around

A little research goes a long way, especially for prescriptions. Call your local pharmacies, grocery stores, and big-box stores to compare medication costs. You’ll find that many pharmacies have a selection of common prescriptions at a low price point (for example, Walmart offers $4 prescriptions).

Use a prescription discount service

You may have seen little cards at your medical providers’ reception desk, boasting free or deeply discounted prescriptions. These are called prescription discount services and they are a great resource to have on hand when filling your prescriptions. 

GoodRx is among the most popular and using their program is a breeze. Simply download the GoodRx app, or visit GoodRx.com, and search your prescription by name (brand or generic), dosage, and quantity. You’ll then be directed to a price comparison screen where you can choose from pharmacies near you. When you visit the pharmacy, just let them know you’re using a discount program and give them the code provided by GoodRx. Easy as that!

Check out manufacturer savings programs

Drug manufacturers will sometimes offer copay cards for brand-name drugs that have no generic option. These usually are available to those with insurance, but some are available without any insurance requirement. If your doctor doesn’t bring up this option when prescribing your prescription, don’t be afraid to ask! In some cases, these savings programs can offer 100% savings, meaning a totally free prescription for you!

Get your prescriptions delivered

Mail-order pharmacies can be significantly less expensive since they typically operate with less overhead expenses. If you’re shopping around for the best prices, don’t count this option out. It’s also much more convenient to receive your meds via mail as opposed to picking them up from a traditional pharmacy.

Use pharmacy rewards programs

Pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and others have rewards programs where you can earn points for dollars spent. Sign up and reap the rewards – but be sure to read the fine print. Some of these programs have a different points system for money spent on prescriptions.

Health insurance isn’t always cheaper

Prescriptions co-pays through your health insurance are often a better price than what you’d pay out of pocket – but not always. It’s always worth comparing the out-of-pocket price to the price of using your co-pay.

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Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist, TV presenter, spokesperson, and educator, specializing in beauty, tech, apps, toys, gift guides, and smart shopping. She has appeared as an expert on dozens of TV shows and radio networks, including Today, Rachael Ray Show, Inside Edition, CNN, Reuters, CNBC.com, Sirius Radio, and numerous FOX, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. Trae has been featured as a beauty tastemaker in Elle, Redbook, InStyle, and Essence, and her work has appeared on Yahoo Finance, Marketwatch, USNews.com, Credit.com, CBSNews.com, Time.com.

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