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Understanding health insurance

March 20, 2018

5 ways to save on prescription drugs

Even if you have health insurance coverage for prescription drugs, it may not cover the full cost. Here are a few smart ways you can save.

If you belong to a group or individual health benefits plan, you may have coverage for prescription drugs, but you may not be covered for the full cost — and with the high price of some of today’s wonder drugs, your share of the bill can add up.

With a little time and a little digging, however, you can find ways to keep more of that money in your pocket. Here are five suggestions for saving on prescription drugs:

1. Get to know your pharmacy options

Pharmacies charge dispensing fees to help cover the cost of filling the prescription and discussing your treatment with you. They are required to post the amount they charge. You may be surprised by how much dispensing fees and services offered differ among pharmacies.

2. Buy generic drugs

A generic drug is clinically identical to the brand-name product, with the same active ingredients, but can cost considerably less. According to Health Canada, nearly half of all prescriptions filled by pharmacies today use generic drugs, and some hospitals prescribe generic drugs almost exclusively. The quality standards for brand-name drugs and generic drugs are the same. Some company plans automatically switch you to a generic drug when such a choice is available, or only cover you for the cost of the generic equivalent.

3. Get a longer supply of medications for chronic conditions

Pharmacists can dispense a longer supply of drugs for chronic or lifelong conditions for a single dispensing fee, so ask your doctor if it’s possible for you to get a longer prescription.

4. Ask for samples

If your doctor suggests you try out a new medication, ask if the manufacturer has given the doctor any free samples.

5. Review regularly

As part of your regular visits, ask your doctor and pharmacist to re-evaluate your medications to make sure they are all working as planned and to determine whether you still need to take them all. Don’t stop taking a prescription medicine without consulting your physician.

Although you may not approach buying prescription drugs in the same way as you think about groceries, clothing or other spending, it still pays to be a smart consumer.

Read more: How to use prescription drugs safely

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