Have you ever felt ripped off or confused at the pharmacy? You wouldn’t be alone. Luckily for you, I’m a pharmacist who loves to find my patient’s ways to save money at the pharmacy.
These 8 tips are my secrets to how I’ve saved patients thousands of dollars during my career. This has helped them stay on their medications and lead healthier lives.
Before giving you these tips I want to make something clear. As a pharmacist, I speak for most of us when I say we work in very understaffed conditions. We are also under a lot of pressure. Therefore, please give us time to make a change to your prescription especially if it results in saving you money. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way as well.
Without further ado, let us start with one of my best tips:
1. Use GoodRx:
First, I do not get any incentive for recommending this website/app. However, I do see it being used every day to save patients money, regardless of if they are insured or not.
By downloading the app or visiting the website you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars over a year!
All you have to do is type in the medication, dose, and quantity and they will compare all the prices at different pharmacies in your area.
Afterward, you simply pick the pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens, etc..) with the best price and take the coupon to the pharmacist.
For example, Losartan 100 mg (3 months supply) is $15 at Costco and $76 at Walgreens.
It’s The Same Medication!
Even if you have insurance, you want to compare your co-pay with the “cash” price of using GoodRx.
Sometimes you save money by NOT using your insurance to pay for prescriptions. The only limiting factor with using GoodRx is that it does not count towards your deductible.
Therefore, this might benefit you the most if you are uninsured or on a high deductible health plan.
You Can Try It Now:
Or you can read more about using GoodRx. I found a great post from Clark Howard that goes into more detail about using GoodRx.
2. Switch From Capsules To Tablets Or Vice Versa:
Most medications usually come in both capsules and tablets and the price difference can be remarkable. I saved a patient over $50 a month from switching her blood pressure medication from tablet to capsule.
Using tip #1, check on GoodRx if your medication is cheaper if you switch formulations. If it is then it is most likely cheaper regardless if you use the GoodRx app or not.
Examples of medications where I have saved patients money by switching them from cap to tabs or vice versa:
Hydrochlorothiazide, Venlafaxine, Fluoxetine, Amoxicillin, Metoprolol, Doxycycline, Minocycline, Diltiazem, and Tizanidine.
3. Manufacturer Coupons:
If you take a brand name medication and do not have the option to switch to a generic version, then manufacturer coupons can save you a boatload of money. Manufacturers often provide co-pay savings cards to patients who have private insurance.
Unfortunately, if you have government-issued insurance such as Medicare or Medicaid, the co-pay savings cards will not work for you.
If you do have private insurance (Aetna, UnitedHealth, Cigna, etc.. ) all you have to do is google the medication name followed by “co-pay savings card” and find the manufacturer’s website.
Lastly, sign up for the savings card and present it to your pharmacy the next time you pick up.
This process usually takes 10 minutes and can save you hundreds depending on the medication.
Examples of medications with manufacturer coupons:
4. Insulins (Vials vs Pre-Filled Pens):
Insulins are notoriously expensive and they are also vitally important for keeping diabetic patient’s blood sugar in control. They come in either a vial or a prefilled pen.
A lot of insurances will charge you less for insulin vials. It is a slight inconvenience having to draw up the right amount of insulin. However, for that inconvenience, you can save hundreds if not thousands over time.
Examples of insulins that have vials and pens are:
Lantus, Novolog, Humalog, and Levemir.
5. Ask For 3 Month Supplies:
Depending on your insurance plan and the type of prescription you are getting, you might be able to get a 3 month supply. This saves you money in more than one way. By picking up a 3 month supply, most insurances give you a discount which looks a bit like this:
1 month = $25
3 months = $50
This translates into a buy 2 get 1 free deal. This is perfect for maintenance medications that treat chronic health conditions. These are medications that you will need for the long term, so why not take advantage and get the discounted price for simply picking up 3-month supplies vs a 1 month supply.
Besides, this also helps improve adherence and reduces your trips needed to the pharmacy. We all know the more trips to the pharmacy the more you end up spending, just ask anyone who uses pharmacies inside of Target stores.
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6. Shop Around:
Another tip to save money at the pharmacy is to shop around and do your research before dropping off your prescription.
Prices of certain medications vary widely in the pharmacy world. You can see by using GoodRx that certain pharmacies offer medications at lower prices.
Use this to your advantage by researching which pharmacies offer your specific medications for the lowest prices and transfer your meds there!
Pharmacies also have $4 lists or lists of medications they flat out give you for free! This is because they want you to shop at their store and build loyalty with you.
What they don’t know is we are part of the FIRE community and our loyalty is with no brand. If the price is right and quality is good we will shop with you, and save while we do it!
7. Ask Your Pharmacist About A Generic Equivalent Medication:
Many times you can save money by switching to a different medication that works in the same way as the medication you are currently taking. This is called switching to a generic equivalent.
Your pharmacist can help identify a lower cost alternative and then follow up with your doctor to get this changed for you.
Most often the change is approved by your doctor and you can feel confident taking a lower-cost alternative.
8. Check If Your Medication Is Available Over The Counter:
Your doctor might send you an over-the-counter medication to the pharmacy and usually, insurance does not cover these.
Examples are; Claritin (Loratadine), Zyrtec (Cetirizine), Flonase (Fluticasone), and Colace (Docusate).
If these are medications you pay for at the pharmacy then you might be able to save by buying it yourself over-the-counter. After checking, compare prices and always go for the generic version.
To conclude, we spend entirely too much on prescriptions.
Unfortunately, the pharmacy staff does not have the time to save every patient money due to consistently being understaffed. Politeness and appreciation can go a long way. Everyone has to take responsibility by finding ways to save money for themselves.
Start today by applying these easy tips to save money at the pharmacy.
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This information is my opinion and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.