Chronic illness is expensive, not to mention the rise in the cost of living these days.
While it’s possible to examine your spending and cut out some expenses, when it comes to prescriptions that help you to keep functioning… that just isn’t an option for most people.
So if we can’t cut out the expense completely, how can we tweak it to at least reduce the expense?
Today I’m sharing 5+ tips to help reduce the cost of medication. Every little bit saved adds up!
1) Compare Dispensing Fees
Did you know that pharmacies charge a dispensing fee with each prescription? A dispensing fee is basically a professional fee & handling fee charged for filling your prescription. If you look closely at your receipt you will see the breakdown of the Pill cost + Dispensing fee= Total.
It pays to call around and compare prices. They can vary between $4 – $20. Often large box stores are among the cheapest. From my research, Costco and Walmart currently have the cheapest dispensing fee.
It’s worthy to note that you do not have to have a Costco membership in order to have your prescription filled there (at least in Canada that is the case, you may need to check in your area in case it is different).
Changing your pharmacy could dramatically reduce your yearly spending on medications!
2) Compare Medication Prices
One might assume that since the medication you are seeking is the same, every pharmacy will be charging the same price for it. This is actually not the case. Pharmacy’s prices vary based on where they buy from, the volume they buy, and the percentage of markup they add on.
If you are on a long-term medication it definitely pays off to shop around and compare prices as it can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings throughout the year.
3) Choose generic instead of name brand medication
Not all medications have a generic version available, but it’s worth inquiring with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if this is an option for your medication.
Both the brand name and the generic medication have the same active ingredient. Generics may have slightly different inactive ingredients (fillers, binders, flavours, etc) so they may look different from the brand name medicine.
Both must pass testing (quality, strength, purity) and be approved by the FDA or Health Canada (or whatever regulatory board operates in your country).
Brand name medications cost more as they cover costs such as those associated with branding it (testing, registering, trademarking) and marketing (you’ve seen those medication commercials). Generic versions do not have all of those expenses and therefore can offer it at a lower rate.
4) Do a 90-day fill instead of a 30-day fill
Although this may not be an option in every area or with every medication, it’s worth looking into if this is an option for your long-term medication.
By filling a 90-day prescription all at once as opposed to filling it 30 days at a time, you will save 2 x the dispensing fee.
For example, If the pill cost for 30 days is $30 and the dispensing fee is $15, you would be paying $45 per month for the medication at a 30-day supply.
If you fill the 90 days, however, it would be a cost of $90 for pills + dispensing fee of $15 = $105 for 3 months or $35 each. That is a savings of $10 a month.
That equals $120 in savings over a year.
5) Check for Subsidized Programs
There may be subsidies and support available in your area that you are not aware of. Many programs are not well known or publicized so it may take some digging to find them.
Federal, provincial, or state programs may offer partial subsidies for medicine for people in certain groups of people, such as people with disabilities, those under a certain income level, seniors, indigenous, and refugees. So it’s worth investigating to see if you are eligible.
Drug companies will sometimes offer their own assistance program for those who cannot afford them. A quick google search of “your medication + subsidy” or “your medication + assistance program” may reveal some assistance you may qualify for.
Non-profit organizations that focus on a specific disorder or disease can be a great resource for learning more about what options may be available for you. For example, with rheumatoid arthritis, you may want to check out CreakyJoints.org or the Arthritis Foundation.
Bonus Tip: Maximize reward programs
Depending on where you shop and what’s available in your area, considering the rewards programs that stores/pharmacies offer may result in having some extra cash in your pocket.
Some stores offer points or rewards for every dollar spent at the pharmacy and they can be redeemed for groceries, gift cards, or travel.
Although this doesn’t save you any money off the direct cost of medication, when it can be transferred to save you money off your grocery bill, the result is the same: more money in your pocket.
Have you saved money on your medications with any of these tips? Please feel free to share below!
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This is such a great post Laura, thank you so much for sharing. Chronic illness can be so tough financially so your tips to help save money are really valuable. I had no idea about dispensing fees and that the cost of medications can differ between pharmacies, thank you. These tips will be of great benefit to so many with illness.
I’m so glad these were helpful! Thanks so much for your kind words and feedback,Lucy.
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