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Simple ways to save hundreds of dollars on prescriptions

Name-brand prescription drugs continue rising in price, but there are simple things you can do to save quite a bit.
Posted at 9:15 AM, Oct 18, 2023

Some days, it may feel like you can't afford to maintain your health, especially regarding the cost of prescription drugs. When you go to the pharmacy to pick up medication, you likely pull out your insurance card first.

But a new study found out that may not be the best way to save money.

Kevin Day is an independent pharmacist who manages his family's Day's Pharmacy in Ohio. He hates seeing patients overpaying simply because their insurance company set a high price.

"As a pharmacist, we're beholden to those contracts to charge a patient what the insurance company tells us to charge," he said. "That doesn't mean it's a good deal."

Day says before you pull out that insurance card, talk to your pharmacist to see if paying directly might be a better deal.

"People are charged more and told to pay more by their insurance companies than they might be able to pay if they just paid directly," he said.

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Varun Vaidya, a pharmaceutical professor at the University of Toledo, led a study that found Americans could save billions of dollars by taking a few extra steps.

"We have had instances where patients find out that, all of a sudden, their regular medicine that they're using for their chronic conditions is hundreds of dollars a month," he said.

Before you simply pay for that, he says, "Put the name of those medications into a price comparison website like GoodRx, and do that comparison shopping just like we do it for buying a plane ticket."

Simple ways to save hundreds of dollars

The University of Toledo study found:

- Amazon Prime pharmacy's discounts would have saved $969 million for patients.

- GoodRx would have saved $1.8 billion.

Doug Hirsch co-founded GoodRx after a frustrating experience filling a prescription.

"I walked into the pharmacy," he told us. "They did that thing with the computer, and they said $500, and no one had warned me."

To avoid a situation like that, go to GoodRx.com and type the name of your medicine. It will find the cheapest options closest to you.

"We just try to make it easy," he said. "Health care shouldn't be this hard."

Alternatively, you can now check Amazon Prime's online pharmacy to see if buying online could save you time and money.

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Don't forget locally owned pharmacies

Would you prefer to stick with your local drugstore? Get to know your local pharmacist; Day says he is happy to recommend alternative medications to help you save.

"Symbicort costs me almost $500" he said, "but this generic costs me $200 or so."

Day says if you have a working relationship with your local pharmacist, they may be able to find you savings deals like that without giving all your personal information to Amazon, GoodRx or other websites.