Best Ways to Save: November 2012

Best Ways to Save: November 2012

Eight Ways to Lower Your Prescription Costs

Starting a new medication can sometimes take you by surprise when drug plans don't cover the drug or charge higher co-pays than you can afford.  If you're having trouble covering the cost of your medicine, here are some things to try:

Take all your prescriptions, vitamins, and supplements with you on your next visit to the doctor.  Find out whether you still need to take them all and if there is a less-expensive brand name or generic you can try before settling on new medications.

Look into mail-order pharmacies.  When ordering by mail you save money because you order in quantity – a 90-day versus a 30-day supply.  Many mail order pharmacies charge lower co-pays for a 90-day supply than what you pay for a 60-day.  Check with your drug plan to find out if mail order is available.

Compare your drug and health plan options NOW during the Medicare Open Enrollment period before it ends on December 7th.  Does your current drug plan even cover your expensive new prescription?  If not, you need to check your other options.  Chances are another plan will.  Use the Drug and Health Plan Finder at  Make sure you carefully enter every prescription drug you take in order to get a custom comparison of your best drug plan choices.  Costs can vary by hundreds, even thousands, of dollars, and you may be very surprised by the savings from switching to a better plan.

Check plans offering gap coverage but don't be surprised if you wouldn't save much.  If your new prescription will cost enough to put you into the doughnut hole coverage gap, check the cost of plans with additional gap coverage.  But if your main expense is an expensive brand name prescription, gap coverage may not save enough to make up for the higher cost of premiums.  Most only cover some generics.  Get unbiased help comparing your coverage by calling your Area Agency on Aging and asking for the help of a State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor, or visit online at:

Apply for Extra Help.  Extra Help is the Medicare program for low-income seniors that can help with most or all of the cost of your drug plan premium, deductibles and co-pays.  You also get valuable coverage in the Part D coverage gap.  If you qualify, you would pay between $1 - $6 for each drug.  Apply even if you aren't sure, because the income requirements are not as stringent as those for State Pharmacy assistance programs.

Apply for pharmacy assistance programs from your drug manufacturer.  Medicare maintains a list of pharmacy assistance programs by drug name.  To learn if there is a program for your drug visit:

Investigate national and community charitable programs and organizations.  An excellent guide to Prescription Drug Assistance Programs is available from The American Cancer Society.  Even if you don't have cancer, the information is pertinent to all drug assistance programs.  For more information call 1-800-ACS-2345 or download the publication at

Use to screen for programs in your area.  If you don't have a computer, ask a friend or family member to help you do an online Benefits Checkup.  The service asks you a series of questions about where you live, your income, and a number of other qualifications, and matches you up with programs that can provide help with medications among a menu of other valuable benefits.