Five ways to save money on medications


June 14, 2012

Five ways to save money on medicationsAn estimated 25 million Americans are currently under-insured, meaning more people are being forced to spend money each month on pharmaceuticals. For elders who require multiple medications daily, carefully selecting which to do without has become a way of life. In order to prevent this from happening to your relatives, consider five of these key tips that can help decrease the cost of medications over time.

1. Ask a doctor or pharmacist for help. Your relative's doctor won't know that he or she has difficulties meeting the costs of medications unless you encourage them to speak up. While it may seem embarrassing at first to confess, you'll be relieved that your loved one has taken the first step toward accessing affordable alternatives to expensive treatment programs.

2. Generic drugs. Did you know that nearly 80 percent of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs have generic versions that can cost significantly less than their brand name counterparts? Consult with a doctor or pharmacist about whether a generic alternative exists for your loved one's medication.

Before switching over, also be sure to ask if the new medication contains the same active components, as some ingredients may interfere with the medicine your relative is currently taking. If you have deep concerns, it may be a good idea to invest in a medical alarm system from Bay Alarm. With just the push of a button, the senior in your life will be able to reach out to emergency staff who can help in the event of a negative reaction to medication.

3. Samples. If no generic alternative exists yet, a doctor may be able to give your relative free or low-cost samples of a drug they need. This does come with certain pitfalls, as samples are usually given for expensive drugs, so be certain that you've explored other options for medication beforehand.

4. Shop around. One of the best ways to be a smart consumer of pharmaceuticals is to arm yourself with knowledge. Often times places like Walmart or Costco can offer medications at a lower price than your neighborhood pharmacy. Mail order subscriptions typically charge a reduced rate as well, but require careful planning on your part to ensure key medications are received on time.

5. Patient assistance programs. Many programs exist that allow seniors to access medications at a reduced rate. If you have a relative over the age of 65, you can also help them apply for Medicare. For further assistance, Medicaid is also available to low income residents. However, each state mandates its own coverage and requirements for eligibility, so be sure to check before applying to see if your relative qualifies.