Ten things you can do to save money on prescription medication costs
Saving on your prescription medication costs begins at the doctor’s office, before you get to the pharmacy.
1) Ask questions. Before you leave the doctor’s office be absolutely clear what each medicine written on your prescription is for.
You may already have one of those medicines at home and not need it right now or you may have already tried it through another doctor and found it not to work.
The same medicine can often be written by different names. For example, you may have been prescribed Omeprazole before and it did not work.
If you then get another prescription for Losec the chances are it won’t work either as it is exactly the same. All this costs you more money.
2) Look at your prescription. At the bottom there are two places a doctor can put their signature. On the right which instructs the pharmacist to dispense the prescription ‘as written’ and on the left which allows for the generic equivalent to be used.
If your doctor has signed on the right then ask why. There may be a medical reason but at the same time there may not and you could instead get prescribed a less expensive but clinically equivalent medicine.
3) Irrespective of where the doctor signs the prescription, ask if the name of medicine that has been written is a brand name or a generic name.
At the pharmacy:
4) Use your pharmacist’s skill set. They are experts in medicines and have trained for five to six years at university so they can help you with many aliments for free, which can save a trip to the doctor’s office and the costs associated.
5) Ask the pharmacist to explain in detail what your medicine is for and how to take it. Incorrectly taken medicine can result in the need for a second course thus increasing the expense to you and your insurance company.
6) If this is a medicine you have taken for a long time then make sure you get a three-month supply. This is the maximum you can get with insurance coverage and will lower your expenses over time
7) On the flip side, if this is the first time you are taking a medicine ask for only one month’s supply. I’ve lost count of the number of my patients who have taken three months of a medicine to find out a week later it does not agree with them.
8) Ask if you are entitled to any discounts. Most pharmacies offer a senior citizen discount or a no-insurance discount that can range anywhere from five to 15 percent.
9) Do your research. Find out everything you can about the medicines you are taking. Use the internet.
Not everything can be trusted on the internet but it is still a valuable research tool and can help you ask the right questions to your pharmacist and doctor.
10) If you are taking a branded medicine and there is no generic alternative suitable (remember you have asked!) then find out when the patent expires on your medicine.
It may be in five years but it may also be next month. Once the patent expires you should be able to get your medicine at a lower cost
Kiran Shah is the pharmacist at Point Finger Road Pharmacy which he co-owns with his wife Lauren. For more information contact him: 236-3859, info[AT]pharmacy.bm or www.pharmacy.bm.
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