With over 15% of the U.S. population on Medicare and the over 65 set filling more than double the number of prescriptions of younger adults (Source: Georgetown University), it’s fair to say that savings money on prescriptions is perhaps more important to this group than any other.
What’s more, drug prices are soaring. According to a congressional report released earlier this year, the cost of brand-name drugs is increasing at 10 times rate of inflation.
Unfortunately, with restrictions against manufacturer coupons due to the federal anti-kickback law, reducing costs can be a challenge. But there are certainly some strategies that can be employed. Below are 8 tips on saving money on pharmaceuticals tailored specifically to the Medicare participant.
Don’t use your coverage.
Patients can opt not to use their Part D coverage. If a coupon or cash price is available that makes it cheaper to not run the medication through insurance at all, that can be the best option. Keep reading for links below to maximize savings when paying cash.
Check your pharmacy’s discount drug program.
With the exception of Walgreens, most pharmacies will still let Medicare patients take part in their prescription drug discount programs.
Talk to your doctor about alternatives.
Generic alternatives to the drug may provide a cheaper option. Often these generics can be cheaper than a copay when paying cash. Check websites like Blink Health, Rx Saver, and GoodRx for even deeper discounts.
Check prices at warehouse clubs.
If you are a member of a warehouse club like Sam’s Club or Costco, be sure to check their cash price. In some cases they offer medication as low as $0 without needing any insurance at all.
See if you qualify for Extra Help.
The government’s Extra Help program allows qualified Medicare beneficiaries to receive additional financial assistance with prescription. It could mean significant savings. The estimated value of the assistance is about $4,000 per year.
Look into state programs.
Eligibility rules may be different for the federal Extra Help program vs your state health insurance assistance program (SHIP), so be sure to look into both.
Apply for manufacturer assistance.
Some pharmaceutical companies offer assistance programs that you may qualify for after spending a certain amount through your Medicare Part D plan. The Medicare website keeps a list of these programs. The non-profit organization NeedyMeds also maintains a list of these programs along with many other medical-cost-saving resources that are worth checking out at their website www.needymeds.org.
Find a better Medicare plan.
Plans vary widely in costs and coverage from original Medical with Part D coverage to Medicare Advantage HMOs and PPOs. It’s worth doing an annual check up of your plan using a comparison tool like the Medicare Plan Finderadd AL for medicare plan selection. Some even allow you to enter your prescriptions and compare costs based on your specific medications.