Tips to save on medications

a senior man holding a medicine bottleThe prices of many prescription drugs can be stressful to you and your wallet. Rest assured, though, that there are some simple things you can do to save. Read on for helpful hints on how to shave a few dollars off your medication costs.

Get to know your pharmacy benefits

First of all, get to know your coverage. Check if you need to meet a deductible before your drug coverage kicks in, and learn which medications are on your plan's covered-drug list. Be sure to use an in-network pharmacy. Many plans also have a preferred pharmacy network that can save you even more.

If you're a Regence member, sign in to view your pharmacy benefits.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist

Be open with your doctor and let them know you're looking for ways to save. Ask if there are less expensive alternatives. Is it safe to split your medications? Is there a combination drug—a drug that includes two or more active pharmaceutical ingredients—that might work for you?

You can also reach out to a pharmacist. They sometimes know about special discount programs or if drug companies are running promotions.

If your health plan includes access to MedSavvy®—a tool that helps you compare treatment options for effectiveness, safety and costs—you can easily connect with a pharmacist online.

Shop around

The price of a medication can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy, even among those in your network. The pharmacy at a warehouse club store, for example, can be less expensive than traditional pharmacies.

If you have Regence pharmacy benefits, sign in and use Find a Pharmacy to search in your network.

If you have MedSavvy, you can compare medications side by side to see if there's a more effective treatment at a lower price.

Ask about generics

A generic drug has the same active ingredients as the brand-name drug. But there's often a significant difference in cost. In fact, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, generic medications cost an average of 80-85% less than brand-name drugs.

If no generic is available, ask your doctor if there are medications that do the same thing and have a generic. For example, some statins—drugs that lower your cholesterol—have generics and some don't, so it won't hurt to ask if another option might work for you.

There are some cases in which the generic isn't much cheaper, so your best bet is to ask your doctor.

Order 90-day supplies

Many health plans offer home delivery (also known as mail-order). With this service, you can order up to three months of your medications at a time.

A 90-day supply can mean big savings. Pharmacist Diana Graalum explains, "Each time a pharmacist dispenses a medication, there's a dispensing fee. So, if you get a 90-day supply, there's one dispensing fee; if you get three 30-day supplies, that's three dispensing fees."

Another plus? You spend less time calling the pharmacy and less gas getting there.

Get help from assistance programs

If you can't afford to pay for your medications, consider assistance programs sponsored by drug companies, nonprofit organizations and the government. They usually have limits on income and other requirements, so make sure to do your research.

Use coupons and discount memberships

Do a quick online search for coupons and the name of the medication—sometimes pharmaceutical companies offer coupons. There are also other discount programs and memberships.

Re-evaluate with your doctor

As you get older, it's important to periodically check in with your doctor to make sure you really need to be taking the medications you've been prescribed. Graalum says, "It's called therapeutic de-prescribing, and it's basically talking to your doctor about taking medications away as you get older. 'Should I still be taking osteoporosis treatment?' 'Should I still be on testosterone?' A lot of the time, the answer is probably not."

While medications can be expensive, there are some ways to make it a little easier on your wallet. Also, talk to your doctor to make sure you're only taking the medications you really need. "Bottom line: we want those medications that help you live a better, longer, healthier life to be convenient and affordable," Graalum says. To learn more about your specific coverage, sign in and go to your Member Dashboard.

Last updated 11/01/2021