Pharmacy savings from a tech’s view

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I’ve been working as a pharmacy technician for 8 years and I see people day in and day out struggling to pay for their medication. Today’s insurance has changed so much from what it use to be. Premiums are costing us more and more and were saving less and less. Prescription drug use increases with age , almost 40% of older Americans use five or more prescription drugs per month according to cdc.gov. Last year Americans spent $272 billion on prescription drugs in retail pharmacies. I would encourage everyone to be a smart shopper and look for the best deals and best insurance. There are many ways to save at the pharmacy.

Splitting higher-dose pills …….. a medication that is 40mg tablet can be split to a 20mg and often cost the same. Some medication are scored where they can be split. Some are not safe to split due to extended released, time released and of course capsules. Just ask your pharmacist or doctor if your medication is safe and or would actually save you money.  Don’t forget you need to buy a pill splitter or ask to have it done so that its split more accurate.

Have a patient-doctor relationship & savings card…….. Talk with your doctor about how your on a budget and how you need something affordable. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for samples or discount cards. Drug manufactures frequently send them samples and coupons all the time, Just don’t forget to READ THE FINE PRINT! That’s very important and some also require you to activate it but if you take the time it can possibly save you a good bit of money even with insurance. Sometimes the same Drug reps come to the pharmacy so it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have any as well. There are ton of discount cards out there and I’ve noticed some people saving with a new app called goodrx.com that seems to help. It tells you the cheapest pharmacy for your medication, it works for some and some not, just remember it isn’t always what it says it is but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Even though some say savings up to 75% off, don’t expect it to actually get that. Yes some do save that much but most don’t,  Be nice to your pharmacy staff and they will be nice to you, they will try to help you save as much as they can.

Go generic….. Most pharmacies will fill your medication generic unless your doctor writes brand name necessary, you request brand name, or a generic is not available yet. According to the congressional budget office, generic drugs save consumers an estimated $8-$10billion a year at retail pharmacies. These drugs are chemically identical (bio-equivalent)  to a brand name and have to be approved by the FDA just like a brand drug has to be. They check to make sure a generic has the same high quality, strength,stability and purity as a brand name. Generics can save you between 30%-80%. Ask if your pharmacy has a list of generics at a cheaper rate such as Walmart $4 list, it could possibly be cheaper without insurance. Antidepressant Citalopram (Celexa) 40mg is $10 for a 3 month supply (which they are scored so if your doctor approved your 20mg dosage for this it could turn into a 6 month supply) at Walmart and cheap at other major retail but if you were to go to a independent some could be triple that. Not saying don’t go to your independent pharmacy just make sure your getting the best deal possible. Insurance companies can charge even higher rates which can increase future premiums. Just about every drug plan has a list of covered drugs called a formulary. Drugs that aren’t on the formulary have the highest out-of-pocket costs or simply aren’t covered at all. The weight loss pill adipex (phentermine) is not covered by the majority of insurance companies and is $26 at Walmart and is usually half that at a retail pharmacy. Again, there are tons of discount cards just be a smart shopper.

Try OTC….. Consider an over the counter product, there are many products that are effective that doesn’t require a prescription. Wether you have mild to moderate pain, stomach cramps, rash so much more. Just stop by your pharmacy and ask for what they would recommend. No don’t raise your shirt and show us the rash under your boobs out in the middle for everyone to see (no joke have had that done a few times) but don’t hesitate to stop by and ask about questions or concerns you might have. When looking at multi-symptom cold reliever always look at the active ingredient and strength. There are many of the same active ingredients in different brands and can be cheaper. Don’t forget to bring your coupons for the best prices on OTC products.

Home Remedies…… No their not FDA approved but many of these actually work. Many countries today still use nothing but home remedies. Generation after generation has used these remedies dating back to 5,000 years ago. I’ve used a few myself that work, Including essential oils that can be amazing. I recently had a fever blister and didn’t want to spend the $17 on Abreva which works really well at the first sign of a fever blister but instead wanted to save and use a tip a old patient that came into the pharmacy about using honey. No joke, at that first tingling burning sensation that i knew i was getting that dreadful fever blister i put honey on it and within a few minutes felt relief! I put it on 3-4 times a day and yes it did get noticeable but nowhere near as big or as long and was soooo much cheaper because it was already in my pantry!

Get off drugs…..  Get active and eat healthy, I admit I’m not the best in this category! We all love our fast food because its convenient and who wants to waste what the kids didn’t eat but we really could benefit from doing these 2 things. Our nation is severely obese and its at a growing rate. I have a friend honeycuttfitness.com that has many workout and nutrition options to fit everyone’s needs. Get healthier. Live longer. Get off prescription drugs. The wight loss is a side effect of becoming healthier. It is a lifestyle. A journey. It can’t happen over night, but we can gradually make small changes in our lives to eventually become the best version of ourselves possible. They are actually on a mission to help 500 people in 2015. There’s no purchase necessary.

As a pharmacy technician I can tell you there are many ways to save, just ask for help and remember sugar gets you a lot more than vinegar. I love to see patients save! Have you thought about trying another option or how you could save at your pharmacy? Or what about getting off medication all together (doctor supervision of course)?

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