Guest post from Alicia of Sweeping Up Joy
“Ask your doctor about generic drugs.”
“Talk to your doctor about alternatives to expensive drugs.”
For families, like ours, who rely on a medication without a generic option or alternatives, these tips aren’t useful at all. Many drugs have no generic options. Not all conditions have a variety of available treatment options.
If you are interested in some serious prescription savings, use these 8 tips to slash costs on long-term, specialized, expensive medications for chronic illness:
1. Check with your insurance company.
Ultimately you and your insurance have at least one shared goal: keep expenses low.
We use the pharmacy our insurance company recommends, and if they had a network, we’d stay in it! I gladly spend a few minutes on hold and being transferred several times in order to make sure we’re jumping through all the hoops we need to.
2. Check out prescription price comparison sites.
Kineret was one of our prescriptions… and based on the information on GoodRX, the price difference from Kmart to Target for Kineret is $420 a year!
GoodRX also shows coupons offered by various pharmacies — just remember to check with your insurance to see if they will cover all pharmacies before switching.
3. Refill prescriptions as soon as possible.
If you know you will meet your maximum out-of-pocket expense for the year, try to fill prescriptions as soon as they are available for a refill, even if some of the medication remains. By continuing to do this all year, you can build up a small reserve of medication.
If you can squeeze in another refill after your “maximum out of pocket” is met before the end of the year, that’s potentially a big savings.
For example, if your child’s medication will run out on January 5th, you can renew the prescription before that. (Check with your insurance company for exact time frames.) If you have already reached an out-of-pocket maximum for the year, refilling the prescription December 31st could save you the cost of an entire month’s prescription.
4. Ask for a cash discount.
We have insurance, but when there was a big hiccup (faulty medication and an insurance company who wouldn’t pay for another set of medication because it was too close to the last fill date), we were forced to pay for medication out of pocket. Talking to the pharmacy saved us several hundred dollars because we were willing to pay cash.
I have also gotten prescriptions that actually cost less than the copays — so by asking for the cash price before paying, it’s possible to decide whether or not to utilize insurance.
5. Check specific drug company sites.
Did you know that many pharmaceutical companies offer copay assistance? Big Pharma gets a bad rap (and sometimes rightly so), but it’s in their best interest to keep people using their products. Many financial assistance programs are offered to help individuals stay on their medication.
We’ve been a part of the copay assistance program for both Kineret and Actemra. There’s some hassle with the application process, but the savings have been well worth any headache! We have saved thousands of dollars over the past few years by utilizing the copay assistance programs.
6. Check your medication at RxAssist.
There may be other financial help available for your specific medication.
7. Consider changing your diet.
Families with ADHD sometimes report that artificial colors and flavorings impact their child’s behavior. Could adding in additional green vegetables or eliminating processed foods improve you child’s health? Adding in berries or bone broth? Eliminating dairy?
Personally, we’ve noticed that processed sugar tends to cause increased pain for one of my children. Skipping sugar hasn’t cured anything, but I believe it has allowed us to get by without additional pain medication.
Implementing family-wide changes can be awful, but if it can result in a lower dose of medication or fewer medications, it may be worth the awful adjustment period.
8. Consider alternative medicine.
If I had a dollar for every “natural cure” suggested to us, I could afford to buy a gallon each of organic tart cherry juice and frankincense essential oil. We have researched all sorts of hair-brain and legitimate options over the years.
Chiropractic care, massage therapy, acupuncture, etc., can play a role in overall health and keeping doses low. We run all our ideas by our daughter’s specialist before trying anything. Some things have helped. Some have not.
I’ve come to grips with the fact that our daughter’s illness can’t be fixed without some pharmaceutical intervention. However, researching ways to save on her prescriptions has given me a sense of control in an otherwise helpless situation. Add to that the thousands of dollars we’ve saved over the years and it’s worth all the boring hold music and tiresome applications we’ve endured.
How have you saved money on big ticket prescriptions?
Alicia is a frugal, bookish mom of four who blogs about finding humor and beauty in the little moments at Sweeping Up Joy.
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