Before Paying for Meds, Ask If There's a Cheaper Option

A March 2018 study found that for about 1 out of 5 prescriptions, insurers required people to pay more if they used their insurance than if they paid the pharmacy's retail price. One reason this happened: gag clauses. The clauses prevented pharmacists from telling you there may be a lower price by not using your insurance.

But not anymore!

"Gag clauses were something Consumer Reports surfaced years ago. We worked with a lot of state legislators to help pass state-by-state laws to help curtail this practice. And then, this past October, two bills were passed in Congress put an end to this practice once and for all on a national level, which is a terrific win for consumers," said Lisa Gill, Consumer Reports health editor.

"We can actually help the consumer a whole lot more. For example, last night, a lady came in for an antibiotic ointment, we filled it, ran it through her insurance was $192. Put it through for the cash price and it was just $15. So, all that saving went into her own pocket," pharmacist William Stroud said.

The number one thing to do, ask: "Is this the lowest possible price on my medication?"

There are some other ways to be money smart with meds.

"Make sure you really need that medication. Two, make sure you're taking a generic. Generics are a good option for most people and will save you boatloads of money. Third, can I get a three-month or 90-day? Save at least one copay, sometimes two," Gill said.

There are a few things consumers can do to save money on their prescription medication.

If your insurance company doesn't cover your drug very well or doesn't cover it at all, it's time to start shopping around.

A manufacturer has different types of programs. Sometimes the program is for people who earn less than a certain amount of money, so it's called a patient assistance program. For people who make more than that and have commercial insurance, they often offer discount coupons to help you fill prescriptions, usually for up to a year.

There's a website that's terrific. It's called Needymeds.org. Go to that website, type in your drug and you'll see all different types of coupons available, including the manufacturer coupon.

Check goodrx.com. Check blinkhealth.com. Both will show you, based on your zip code, a comparison of the best discounts they can get from different pharmacies in your area. You may be surprised at the money you can save.

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