If you’ve noticed an increase in the cost of your prescription medication, you’re not alone. AARP reported a 2.9% price increase for commonly used medications, outpacing inflation1. In fact, Americans spend more on their prescription drugs than any other nation. The global cost of prescription medication comes to $1 trillion, with American paying roughly 50% of those costs2. Each year, US Consumers spend $1,011 on prescription drugs, and popular prescription medications in this country cost 300% more than the median global price3.
So why are Americans paying so much more for prescription medication than other countries? The reasons are varied and complex, and include production costs, pharmaceutical monopolies, and lack of regulation that allows drug companies to charge excessive prices for the medications they produce.
The escalating costs of critical medications can be frustrating and frightening, especially as families confront rising prices at every corner — from the gas station to the grocery store and everywhere in between. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help lower the cost of your prescription medication. Here are a few tips.
Ask Your Doctor
Many Americans take multiple prescription drugs, and continue to do so ever after it’s no longer necessary. Ask your doctor if you still need all your prescription medications. In one national Consumer Reports survey of 1,000 adults, 70% of those who asked their doctor whether their drugs were necessary were told they could eliminate at least one4.
For those medications that are necessary, be sure to ask your prescribing doctor if a less expensive or generic option with the same active ingredients might be available. Using generic drugs in place of brand names can save you as much as 85%4.
Ask for a 90-Day Supply
Find out from your provider if you can get a prescription for a 90-day supply of your medication. This eliminates the need for monthly refills, while also reducing the costs for many drugs. Using a mail-order prescription service can also reduce the cost and hassle of monthly visits to your pharmacy.
Pay Cash for Your Medications
Even if you have insurance, paying for a 90-day supply of prescription medication in cash might be cheaper than co-pays. You may also want to look into getting a discount prescription card or purchase from an online prescription discount site that offers delivery.
Prescription drug pricing can vary significantly from pharmacy to pharmacy. By shopping around and comparing prices, you’re likely to find a pharmacy with lower costs for prescription medication. Pharmacies located in grocery chain stores and big box retailers often have the lowest medication prices.
Look into Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs
Many pharmaceutical manufacturers offer discounted or even free prescription drugs on certain medications, for individuals who qualify. To find out if you might qualify for one of these programs, reach out to the company directly. States also offer pharmaceutical assistance programs; to learn more about these, contact your state’s Insurance Department or Department of Health and Human Services, Elderly and Adult Services Division.
Join a Health Sharing Program
Christian health sharing programs are a viable option for Americans looking to lower their healthcare costs, including drug costs. With faith-based health share programs, members share the medical care expenses — resulting in potentially hundreds of dollars in savings each month for families. Some Christian health sharing programs also share the cost of prescription medications, which can help lower drug costs as well.
When doing research on Christian health sharing programs, be sure to look at their guidelines regarding prescription medication cost sharing, and see if they have any discounts and reward points they offer to help keep your costs low. A good place to start is here.