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How to Get Medications for Less

The best way to reduce your prescription drug costs is to follow a healthier lifestyle. Improving your diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking can improve your health enough that you may be able to give up or take lower doses of expensive medications.

The following strategies from the FDA can help you cut your prescription costs significantly.

Ask for generics

If your doctor prescribes a brand-name drug, always ask if there’s a generic equivalent. Generics retail for 30% to 80% less, on average, than brand names and usually have lower insurance copays.

Generics meet the same FDA quality and performance standards as their brand-name counterparts.

Shop around

Prices can vary dramatically from neighborhood pharmacies, large retail chains, and online sources. Many pharmacies offer some generic prescriptions for as little as $4 for a 30-day supply. There may be restrictions or limitations, so ask for details.

If your health insurance has a drug plan, include it in your cost comparison. If you use an online pharmacy, be sure it is licensed in your state. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if financial assistance is available for your particular medication or condition. If so, remember that there may be restrictions. 

Split the difference

Some pills shouldn’t be split, such as those with time-release coatings. But depending on what you take, you may be able to cut your costs by asking your doctor if it's OK to split a higher-dosage version of your medication. If you can do this, be sure to use a pill-splitter device. Don't break pills with your fingers as they may break unevenly and result in an inaccurate dose.

Order in bulk

If you take a medication daily, buying a 90-day supply instead of a 30-day refill can reduce dispensing fees or copays.

Ask for substitutes

If you’re taking a brand-name drug for which no generic is available, ask your doctor if you can switch to a less expensive drug in the same category.

In some cases, you may even be able to take an over-the-counter (OTC) drug instead of a prescription.

Do the math

Find out from your prescription drug plan what your out of pocket expenses will be when filing your prescriptions.