How to Reduce the Cost of Medication
Category: Prescription Related Questions
Posted on December 13, 2021
Scott is passionate about health and wellness, and enjoys writing on various topic surrounding these fields. Scott lives in Seattle and spends his free time restoring old furniture and playing pickleball with his friends.
In the United States, the cost of medication accounts for 90% of spending by US residents. This expense is a reflection of what it costs to care for those suffering from chronic illness. Besides, the emergence of new technologies, medicine, and procedure results in the ever appreciating cost of medical care.
Despite the existence of healthcare insurance, healthcare remains to be expensive. In some cases, patients are expected to cover their medical expenses by paying out-of-pocket. For patients suffering from chronic illness, this can easily create a financial burden.
Prescription medicine is quite common among most people. On average, a significant group of people beyond 65 years take about six prescription drugs. This figure translates to the overall burden cost of healthcare.
With a bit of research, you can save a few dollars on your prescription medicine. This article provides an overview of the healthcare industry. It also provides a guide on how to reduce the cost of medication.
What Are Prescription Drugs?
Prescription drugs usually need a prescription or a doctor's note before it is given to a patient. These types of drugs are the opposite of over-the-counter medicines. Anyone can purchase over-the-counter medication without a prescription.
Examples of prescription drugs are Hydrocodone, Generic Norvasc, Azithromycin, and Amoxicillin.
Benefits of Prescription Medicine
Most patients on prescription medicine tend to suffer from long-term illnesses. Others happen to be seniors whose bodily functions are slowly degrading. Prescription medicine helps to restore health and aid the body in performing everyday functions.
Advances in medicine are gradually making it easier for patients to live longer and healthier lives. Yet, despite this progress, the cost of medication continues to be on an upward trajectory.
What Is the Cost of Prescription Medicine?
In the year 2016, an estimate of $450 Billion was spent on prescription medicine. This figure represents a 5.8% increase from 2015. The primary reason behind the rising cost of prescription medicine is the introduction of specialty drugs.
These drugs are used for the treatment of severe conditions.
In 2015, an estimate of 1 to 2% of people used specialty drugs. This figure accounted for 38% of total medication expenditure in that year. By 2020, the global spending on prescription drugs was estimated to hit an all-time high of $350 Billion.
Why Is Prescription Medicine Expensive?
As stated, innovation and specialty treatments lead to the growing costs of prescription medicine. But, other factors also contribute to the increase in expenses.
Monopoly refers to the exclusiveness in the supply of a specific commodity. The lack of competition within the medical industry chiefly contributes to the increase in medication costs.
For example, in the United States, three companies manufacture and control the insulin market. Without much competition, these companies are at the forefront of dictating the costs.
Most illnesses requiring prescription medicine tend to be incurable. Cancer patients, for example, rely on a sequence of prescription medicine to counter the cancerous cells.
Since cancer is terminal, there is little to no need for new drugs. The absence of alternatives creates a conducive environment for monopoly.
As a general rule of thumb, monopolies have an expiration date since the patents tend to expire. But, this is different for chronic illnesses such as cancer. As the drug's patent life is coming to an end, the drug is already considered obsolete.
For biological drugs, getting rid of the monopolies is rather challenging. This is a result of the approval, and the manufacturing process is cumbersome. These factors render it problematic for competitors to join the market.
For the sake of regulation of prescription medicine, it is essential to eradicate existing monopolies. Unregulated monopolies can make the cost of prescription medicine unaffordable.
Severity of Disease
Patients who suffer from complex and chronic diseases pay top dollar for prescription medicine. But, such patients are willing to meet the cost to prolong their lives. For instance, cancer patients end up paying more for prescription medicine. On the other hand, patients suffering from less severe illnesses such as common colds or flu can access affordable medication.
High Cost of Development
The development of a new drug costs approximately 3 billion dollars. This figure also takes into consideration the high rate of failure. In most cases, about 10 to 20% of newly developed drugs get to reach the market.
But, the development cost is justifiable since a trial drug requires a large sample for clinical trials before approval. More so, the research and trials for new medication make use of public funds. Thus, the public does have a right to push for fair pricing of medicine.
How Can You Reduce the Cost of Medication?
The existence of insurance covers has not necessarily reduced the cost of medication. The price is transferred to patients through deductible and higher co-pays. Individuals suffering from long-term illnesses have to choose between paying for basic needs or purchasing medication.
If you are suffering from multiple illnesses, you may end up paying thousands of dollars annually on prescription medicine. But, there are specific ways you can cut the cost of prescription medicine. Here is how:
Switch to Generic Brands
A popular misinformed notion around generic medicine is the quality. However, generic drugs tend to perform a similar function to brand-name drugs. Besides, generic brands are less expensive in comparison to brand names.
More often than not, people buy brand-name drugs, believing they are superior to generic brands. Thus, it is a legal rule for pharmacists to substitute brand-name drugs with generic ones. But, If your physician advises against generic brands, you should refrain from their use.
Review Insurance Coverage
When applying for insurance cover, it is essential to consider the pricing plans. Pay close attention to the cost of deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance amounts.
Most prescription medications are covered under Medicare Advantage Plus plans. But, it is essential to compare Medicare plans to get affordable ones. For example, according to analysis, the ten most prescribed medications had prices 14 times higher under the Medicare Part D plan.
Reviewing different plans will significantly reduce the cost of prescription medication.
Talk to Your Pharmacist
In most cases, prescription medicine requires use over a long period. They essentially become a part of your daily life. Patients suffering from chronic illnesses, especially, have to use prescription medicine to improve their health conditions. This is always a lifetime commitment.
If you have multiple prescriptions, you can combine them and talk to your pharmacists. By sourcing all your prescription medication from one pharmacy, you can save on costs and reduce the chances of redundancy.
Some pharmacists offer a mail-delivery prescription service. Such services save patients the cost of having to visit the pharmacies. You can also request a 90-day supply of your prescription medicine. Your pharmacist can give you a discount on the price since you are buying in bulk.
Sticking to one pharmacy can be a boon or a bane. A boon, since you can get discounts on your prescription medication cost. A bane because you may end up paying higher prices for medication compared to other pharmacies.
By shopping around, you can compare prices from different pharmacies. You can find their contacts online and call to inquire about their fees to save you the trip.
Prescription Discount Cards
Prescription discount cards are free. They give patients access to discount rates on the purchase of prescription drugs. They are a significant way of cutting costs and saving money on prescriptions.
You can access such cards from online prescription discount sites such as GoodRx. You can also access them from retail stores or through a delivery service. The delivery option offers even higher discounts.
But, it is best to compare your insurance plans with the rates on the prescription discount cards. It is also worth noting that discount cards may limit you to benefits for your part D True Out of Pocket (TROOP).
Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs
Some pharmaceutical manufacturers offer affordable assistance programs—the program's center on the purchase of prescription drugs.
For example, Humira, a popular rheumatoid arthritis drug, retails at approximately $7000 a month. But, you can access this drug at $5 or even free with a pharmaceutical help program.
To find out whether your prescription qualifies for an assistance program, you can search the Medicare.gov database. From here, you can check on drug availability and where you can access savings on your prescription.
You can also find such programs in your state. Besides, you can inquire from our insurance agency for a list of state-sponsored assistance programs. State programs differ from manufacturing programs, where you may have to pay an enrollment fee. Also, the application is set to cover a specific period.
The benefit of a state health insurance program is that it provides counseling on available Medicare prescription coverage within your area.
Another way you can save on medication costs is through Extra Help. This program is sponsored by the federal government targeting Medicare beneficiaries unable to meet the cost of coinsurance, deductibles, co-pays, and premiums.
For you to be eligible, Social Security will undertake an assessment of your income, assets, source of wealth, or savings. You will be required to apply. If approved, the agency can reimburse you the cost of prescription medicine you purchase during the waiting period.
It is possible to find a charity program to sponsor some of your medical costs. For example, common chronic illnesses such as cancer have charity support programs, which can help with your medication costs.
A quick search on the internet can reveal a variety of charity programs and the benefits they offer. You can use the National Council on Aging Tool to search for various programs based on your area.
Make Use of Sample Brand Names
The probability of medication working for you relies on chance. For this reason, it is cost-effective to use a sample brand name for the short term to assess its effectiveness. If the medication doesn't work for you, you can then switch to a different one.
Investing much in a brand drug can be costly. It would be best to accept the sample for trials. You don't want to buy a large number of prescription drugs and end up changing them mid-way.
Use Combination Drugs
Some diseases need a combination of two kinds of medicine for treatment. You can save this cost by purchasing one combined pill. But, diseases such as diabetes do need more than one medication.
It is essential to inquire from your doctor or pharmacist about the possibility of finding combined prescription drugs. This simple step can help you save on the cost of medication.
Cut Your Pills
Most drugs exist in two forms; higher and lower strengths. If the price of a higher strength drug is lower than a lower strength drug, you can purchase the higher strength drug then cut it into two. But, you should only be done under the advice of a medical doctor or a pharmacist.
For example, if a higher strength drug of 100mg goes for $2.50 and a lower strength drug of 50mg goes for $3.50, you can save on buying the high strength drug. Using a pill cutter, you can cut the drug into two, and you'll have two pills of 50mg each. This applies if your prescription medication is for 50mg.
More so, this will only work for tablets that can be cut into two. It may be challenging to apply for capsules.
Can Exercise Reduce the Cost of Medication
Yes, a lifestyle change can go a long way in reducing your medication costs. Most of the diseases that need prescription medicine can be controlled with a lifestyle change. For instance, people who have diabetes can embrace healthier diets and physical exercises. Besides, reducing unnecessary fat in the body goes a long way in reducing the cost of medication.
At PricePro pharmacy, we offer discounted rates on prescription drugs to American residents. Our benefits cover the most popular drugs. Visit our website to find out more about our products today to make a significant saving on your prescription medication.