Surprising Advice from a Pharmacist

Who knew this insight could help us save money?

by Mohamed Jalloh | Updated 08 Feb 2017 at 9:28 PM

A question I’m often asked is: “I take so many drugs and am tired of spending so much at the pharmacy. What can I do to save money?”

As rising drug prices hit us all hard, one surprising tip is for patients to see how much they can pay without using insurance.

Yes, I said without.

People may forget about such programs, since they automatically think their insurance company is providing the best deal.

Some pharmacies have a "30 day $4 copay" program or similar programs for certain drugs based upon their negotiated prices with the manufacturers. If your insurance copay would be more than this — then I would fill that medication under the pharmacy’s program.

Such medication discounts are common with some big-name pharmacies and some of the independents. I've seen copays go from $30 to $4 with such plans. However, this won't work for everyone — it is dependent upon your insurance provider.

I think people may forget about such programs, since they automatically think their insurance company is providing the best deal. Also, at the pharmacy, we usually automatically bill the last insurance information — meaning if we aren't prompted, we aren't likely to change how we would bill the prescription.

Related: What's Behind Your Daughter's Depression?

One other way to save is to ask your pharmacist for a medicine checkup. They can let you know which medications you don't really need to take and which aren't as safe. Unfortunately, I have seen many patients prescribed medications to solely treat side effects for other unnecessary drugs. Your pharmacist can help you conduct a "Rx Diet" to get rid of the extra weight of unnecessary drugs.

Dr. Mohamed "Moe" Jalloh is a California-based clinical pharmacist, assistant professor, and spokesman for the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

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