7 Genius Ways to Save on Prescription Drugs. Small steps that can add up to big savings.

Prescription drug costs are growing faster than any other health care expenditure in the U.S. For most of us, these medications are not optional. Nearly 60% of adults take a daily prescription to help manage their health. The good news is that you can make a dent in your monthly out-of-pocket costs with a just a little research and action on your part. Check out these six steps you can take to help lower your costs.

1. Get your prescriptions free

The proliferation of online discount eyeglass providers has made it easier than ever to get your frames for less. You’ll typically pay 50-75% less with online sellers versus traditional retailers. Sites like Zenni Optical, Warby Parker and other online retailers have perfected the art of buying online by offering generous home try-on and return programs.

Stores like Giant Eagle, Meijer and Publix offer some common generic prescriptions for allergies, diabetes infections and high blood pressure at no cost.

2. See if it’s cheaper to pay out of pocket

Believe it or not, many chain and big-box stores such as Kroger, Publix and Walmart offer common generic drugs for less than your co-pay from your insurance company. For instance, Walmart offers a list of common generic prescriptions for $4 for a 30-day supply and $10 for a 90-day supply.

In other cases, “clawbacks” from Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) such as Caremark, Express Scripts and Optum have contracts that allow pharmacies to charge patients with insurance more than the retail cost of the prescription. An investigation in New Orleans exposed an example of this swindle. A pharmacy patient was charged her full $50 co-pay for a drug that had a retail cost of $11.65, meaning it would have been much cheaper to purchase outside the patient’s prescription drug plan.

3. Request a 90-day prescription

For prescription drugs you’ll be taking long term, ordering 90-day supplies in not only more convenient, it can save you a third of your copays – which will help lower your annual costs.

4. Compare prices

Use apps like GoodRX and OneRx to compare prices and see where you can get your prescription for the lowest price. For instance, researching Lipitor on GoodRX showed local prices ranging from $18-$144 and listed additional options to lower costs further with links to coupons.

5. Maximize your benefits

Always see if you are eligible for refills at the end of the calendar year. If you’ve already satisfied your out of pocket maximum, your refills will be free.

6. Use generics whenever possible

Generic drugs contain the same active ingredients and produce the same effects as their brand-name equivalents, but at a lower cost. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the cost of a generic drug can be as much as 85% lower on average.

7. Take advantage of special programs

Check with your pharmacist, GoodRx and OneRx about special programs, coupons or discount cards. If you use an expensive drug, see if the pharmaceutical manufacturer has a patient assistance program to help lower costs for people who have trouble affording treatment.

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