Fight Back Against Rising Prescription Costs with Common Sense

Pres save earningThe cost of medical care is rising fast. Much of the increase is due to the cost of prescription medications. There are several things you can do to lower these costs. However, you must first become an astute consumer of medical care. Here are some suggestions:

  • Stay healthy. Eat right with plenty of fruits and vegetables, cut down on sugars and empty calories. Get adequate exercise and plenty of fresh air. You be amazed at how much better you’ll feel. Wash your hands frequently and be particularly careful about hygiene and the spreading of germs when someone in the household is ill.
  • Don’t over-do doctor’s visits. If you have a cold or minor flu, an office call probably isn’t necessary. Rest, Vitamin C tabs and zinc lozenges for colds, hot tea and clear fluids are the prescription here. Traditional over-the-counter remedies like Alka-Seltzer, aspirin, Vicks VapoRub, and a vaporizer are relatively cheap and will probably work as well as anything the doctor could prescribe in the short term. Chicken soup actually works, even good old Campbell’s Chicken and Noodle. A fever that lasts more than a day, prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, seriously sore throat or ear ache are signs you should probably see your doctor as soon as possible.
  • If you must see your physician, don’t insist on antibiotics for virus illnesses. Antibiotics aren’t effective against viruses, are very expensive in many cases and may well be responsible for the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant disease.
  • When you are faced with a necessary prescription, try to get your doctor to go generic. Generics are usually considerably cheaper and work equally well.
  • With prescription in hand, call several pharmacies and compare their prices. There are surprising differences in the cost, depending on which pharmacy you use.
  • Ask your doctor to prescribe to ‘the list’. By the list, I mean the list of prescription medications offered by both Wal-Mart and Target for $4 each. These are usually generics and cover most categories of common medical conditions. In some areas of the country, other stores offer the same service. Have an updated, monthly, list printed out ahead of time and your doctor can look to it for reference. He may find a suitable alternate drug that would work as well for the reduced price. Most prescription co-pays are more than the $4 full price. Other co-pay plans will actually lower the price even more.
  • Take all prescriptions medications are directed and take them all. If you don’t follow directions or stop the medication early, you are likely to end up back at the doctor’s office getting yet another prescription. This will never be cost-effective.
  • If you are one of the millions who must take prescription drugs on a daily basis and your drugs are not readily available for the reduced rate, you would be wise to be enrolled in an insurance plan that offers mail order prescription services. Medco charges $15 for a three month supply. These plans are not stand-alone plans, however, and are usually attached to more comprehensive health insurance through your employer .They usually require you use ‘approved’ drugs. If you don’t currently have such insurance, it might be worth your while to lobby your benefits department for inclusion of such a plan. They can offer real savings over the course of a year.
  • Speak frankly with your doctor. Tell him if the cost of a prescription is injuring your budget. For ‘one-time’ prescription needs, physicians often have sample packs for medications they can give you to help you weather the crisis. Some medications in scored tablet form may come in stronger dosages. If your doctor agrees he can prescribe the higher dosage and you can cut the tablet in half and have it last twice as long for the same price. Do not attempt to do this with capsules, however.
  • Unknown on-line prescription services are risky business. Only buy online prescriptions from well-known, reputable pharmacies.

With healthy habits, smart consumerism and a little luck, you CAN cut your prescription costs. Good luck and good health!