Ten Ways Your Employees Can Save Money on Prescription Drugs

Posted on Monday, July 22, 2019

The issue of prescription drugs and the insurance that may or may not adequately cover those medications can be confusing. Insurance plans -- including Medicare -- can make it hard to navigate the ins and outs of prescription drugs and insurance coverage. That makes it easy for patients to stumble into costly mistakes, or just quit trying to control drug costs. Or worst of all, patients may delay needed treatment because drugs are unnecessarily expensive and they have urgently competing priorities for their scarce dollars.

It doesn't have to be that way. Here's a brief list of tips and techniques that may help reduce expensive drug costs.

1. Use generic versions. Generic drugs are chosen more and more these days. In fact, over 80 percent of prescriptions specify generic drugs preference. Generic drug manufacturers are able to essentially duplicate brand name drugs, once the patent for the brand name version expires. Research indicates that in 2012 alone, generic drugs saved consumers as much as $217 billion, and $1.3 trillion over the preceding decade.

In the next several years, many more brand name drug patents will expire (after the 17 year protected period is up). That means there will be more opportunities to save by switching existing brand-name patent-protected prescriptions to lower-cost generics as they come available.

2. Use wholesale clubs. Organizations like Sam's Club and Costco may be able to offer your employees deeply discounted prices unavailable elsewhere. Some require membership cards but not all. Even for those which do, the cost may well be worth it.

3. Try the over-the-counter drugs. Many times there is a perfectly acceptable and effective over- the-counter medications available for a fraction of the cost of the prescription drug. Employees should ask their doctors if there is an effective alternative which does not require a prescription.

4. Take advantage of patient assistant programs. For employees who are lower income there may be subsidies and discounts available. Check out Needymeds.org.

5. Clip coupons. In the end, drug companies are a lot like grocery manufacturers - they don't make money unless people buy their product. They therefore offer a variety of incentives to get new customers to try their product. Among them are coupons. Internet technology makes it easier to search for these coupon deals.

6. Use discount cards. Almost all large pharmacies offer some form of a discount, loyalty or membership card that translates to savings and special offers.

7. Ask for a free sample. Your employees might be able to get free samples from their doctors. Doctors often have closets full of small sample portions of various drugs. Pharmaceutical manufacturers provide them to medical offices hoping to entice doctors to prescribe their drugs over the competition. Employees need to let their doctors know if they cannot afford the medicines prescribed and ask if there are samples available.

8. Get a pill-splitter. Depending on the medication, employees may be able to pill split. That means they ask the doctor for a higher dosage pill (for example, double the normal dose), then use a pill-splitter to cut the tablets in half. This can be very economical, like buying the value-size of any off the shelf product. It's important to know though, that not all pills lend themselves well to pill-splitting, so employees need to consult with their doctors or pharmacist before trying this.

9. Order medications by mail. Many prescription drugs are available from mail order pharmacies. The low cost of overhead makes their products very affordable. However, not all mail-order drug vendors are legitimate, so employees should look for approval from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, before buying from such a pharmacy. For best results, they should look for the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site logo. For more information about this program, click here.

10. Don't neglect local sources. Employees should check with local referrals to find the best pharmacies in near them. Many smaller pharmacies are able to offer lower prices in exchange for loyalty.

To get the best prices, it may be necessary to do some independent research. But since prescription drugs are frequently a recurring, long-term expense, a little research in the beginning may result in big savings over time.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in Dulin, Ward & DeWald’s blog is provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice on any subject matter. Before taking any action based on this information, we strongly encourage you to consult competent legal, accounting or other professional advice about your specific situation. Questions on blog posts may be submitted to your DWD representative.

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