Main Content
Your Health Care

6 Ways to Save on Your Prescription Medication

February 24, 2018

Everyone likes surprises—until they cost you money or delay you getting something you need. That’s why it’s important to know your pharmacy benefits before you try to fill a prescription. A surprise at that point could cost you extra money on your medicine or keep you from getting it when you need it. Before filling a prescription, take these six simple steps to make sure things go smoothly.

1. Check Your Medication List

The first thing you should do is check your health care plan’s medication list to see whether the medicine your doctor has prescribed is on it.

Most healthcare companies research the various medications that are available and study them to determine whether they’re safe to use, how well they work, and what benefits they provide. They also look at whether the medication has received official Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the condition its been prescribed to treat. Based on these factors, they determine which medications are covered for plan members.

2. Consider Switching to Generic Medications

To save money on prescriptions, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether a generic medication is available to use instead. Per the FDA, on average, generics cost 80–85% less than brand-name medications, and research shows that they usually work just as well. In 2010, the use of FDA-approved generics over their name-brand equivalents saved $158 billion nationwide—that’s an average of $3 billion a week!

And you don’t need to be afraid to use a generic. The FDA requires generics to have the same active ingredient and strength as your brand-name medication. You even take the generic in the same way you normally would. So, talk to your doctor about your condition and see whether there’s a generic version of your medication that might work just as well for you, while saving you money, too.

3. Don’t Forget About OTCs

Ask your doctor whether a cheaper over-the-counter (OTC) medication might be able to replace your more expensive prescription medicine.

4. Choose a Pharmacy in Your Health Insurance Plan

Whatever you do, make sure to use a pharmacy that’s in your plan. Your insurance company will have negotiated special rates at these pharmacies for its members, so you’ll get a lower price than if you go to a pharmacy that’s not in your plan. To see whether a pharmacy is in your plan, check your insurance company’s website or call customer service.

5. Ask About Your Prescription Price

Don't assume you know how much your medicine will cost—you don’t want to be surprised. Ask your pharmacy before the prescription is filled how much you’ll need to pay.

6. Consider Using a Home Delivery Service

Your plan may offer a home-delivery option for prescriptions, which can be especially helpful if you take certain medications on a regular basis. The mail-order pharmacy can remind you when it’s time to order a refill, and you can order by phone, mail or online. Not only is your medication delivered right to your doorstep, but you can often get a 90-day supply for less than you would if filling the prescription monthly at your local pharmacy.

Make sure to do your research, though, because some prescriptions require someone to be home to sign for them. If you work away from home during the day, you can talk to the mail-order service to see if your prescription is one of those and what other options might be available, like Saturday delivery.

Remember, it can take time to process and ship your order, so make sure to call in refills before you’re completely out of your medication, or see if an automatic refill is an option, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to fill your prescription. Your first mail-order prescription will take a little longer to process, so make sure to get one prescription you can fill locally for your medicine, then request a separate 90-day prescription to start your home delivery.

For a complete description of your pharmacy benefits, including how to fill your prescriptions, please review the Evidence of Coverage and Comprehensive Formulary documents for your health care plan.