In these tight economic times, many people have to choose between filling their prescriptions and buying groceries or heating their homes.
Skipping medication, splitting pills, or even sharing medicine with a family member can do more harm than good. It can be dangerous to skimp on medications, especially without close supervision from a doctor.
Here are some great, risk-free ways to save on your prescriptions:
1. Explore Your Options with AARP’s Drug Savings Tool
Find information about the safety, effectiveness, and price of your prescription drugs, directly from the Consumer Reports Health Best Buy Drug database. For most prescriptions you take, this Drug Savings Tool produces a list of similar, less costly options. Print the list of recommendations to discuss with your doctor.
2. Go Generic
After a medication has been on the market and the patent expires, a generic product may become available. Generic drugs are the same as name brand medicine in dose, strength, and safety – yet they are about one-third the price.
“When it comes to prescription drugs, newer isn’t always better,” says Dr. Bill Thomas, geriatrician. Thomas advises people to talk with their doctor. “‘Ask the question - is there an older, more established medicine that I can take that will work as well for me?’”
3. Receive Medicare Discounts
If you’re on Medicare, use the Doughnut Hole Calculator www.aarp.org/doughnuthole to learn how to avoid the coverage gap, or doughnut hole, where you have to pay all your prescription costs. Print a letter for your doctor for each medication alternative that may save you money.
Also, because of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Part D recipients who reach the coverage gap will now get a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs at the time of purchase.
4. Order Drug Comparison Guides
Print guides from AARP and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) can help you compare the benefits, side effects, and costs of medication to treat specific health conditions. Order your free online guide(s) online, or use the toll-free AARP number listed below to make your request.
5. Make Lifestyle Changes
Talk with your doctor about lifestyle habits, such as exercise and healthy eating, that could reduce your need for certain medications.
6. Shop for Medication Discounts
Consider a prescription discount card or fill your prescription through mail order to reduce the cost of your medications. You can also check with your state or local government about prescription assistance programs for which you might qualify.
7. Be Your Own Advocate
You’ve explored your medication options. Now take your personal medication record and your list of medication options and discuss each with your doctor. Let your doctor know that cost is a concern. And don’t forget to talk to your pharmacist too.
Exploring your medication choices can save you money. Just remember, becoming your own medication manager—in partnership with your doctor and pharmacist—can ensure that you use prescription drugs safely and effectively.
Drug Comparison Guide Topics in English and Spanish
Call 1-888-OUR-AARP and request a free copy of any of the guides listed below. You will need the shown D-number(s) when you place your order. The second D number is for Spanish copies.
Depression [D19183, D19382]
Osteoarthritis [D19187, D19339]
Blood Pressure [D19186, D19385]
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease [D19182, D19384]
Breast Cancer [D19286, D19457]
Osteoporosis [D19188, D19381]
Type 2 Diabetes (Pills) [D19185, D19380]
Type 2 Diabetes (Insulin) [D19287, D19459]
Rheumatoid Arthritis [D19181, D19383]
High Cholesterol [D19184, D19458]