Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Saving money on prescriptions: Do more with less

Healthcare is high on everyone priority lists right now. About 22,000 people die each year because they don't have adequate healthcare coverage, according to a study by the Urban Institute -- that's about six times as many people as died on 9/11.

At the 36-Hour Day, we're talking about healthcare and how we have to do more with less. Before you weigh in (or opt out) of the current debate about health care, you should first read the HR3200 bill for yourself. (Don't feel like sifting through all 1,018 pages of it? A group of voice actors have recorded it as an audio book. Check it out.)

Once you've done that, you need to sift through the rhetoric, from President Obama's speech to Congress yesterday to Sarah Palin's Wall Street Journal piece and everything in between. (The American Nurses Association has put together a great fact sheet that can help.)

And, if you're like me, you'll probably need to find ways to save money on medication while you're waiting to see how healthcare reform affects you.

My company is poised to switch us from our current health insurance plan -- which is actually pretty good -- to one with higher weekly premiums, less coverage, and $9,000 worth of up-front costs and deductibles.

We have five kids. One of them has Autism. Another has scoliosis. One is plays lacrosse and volleyball and has a bum ankle that gets reinjured regularly. Another has already done time in the ER -- twice. And the youngest is a 2-year-old boy, so we might as well pencil in a few extra doctor's visits on his calendar, just because.

So, I'm looking to trim costs wherever I can. Since the new plan leaves us with little prescription drug coverage, it made sense to see what else was out there. And, since I'm far from the only person facing this issue right now, I thought I'd share some of what I've dug up:

1.) Target offers many generic medications at $4 for a 30-day supply, or $10 for a 90-day supply. Other amounts are available, and those costs are reasonable, too. WalMart also has a similar program.

2.) Walgreens has a prescription drug "club" program that offers lower prices on generics and some name brand drugs. It includes insulin, medicines for your pets, and you also earn a 10-percent credit-type bonus that you can use on all other Walgreens purchases. You have to pay a membership fee ($20 per year for individuals, $35 per year families) to join, but if prescription medication is a reoccuring cost for your family, it's well worth it.

3.) You don't have to have a Costco membership to fill prescriptions at their pharmacies. They offer many name-brand medications at cost -- which is still pricey, but at least you avoid the typical drug-store markup. (If you think the markup is a myth, it's worth reading the Snopes take on it here.)

How are you holding down your family's health care costs?


fibrowitch said...

Thanks for the link to Costo. I have well over 10,000 in annual medical bills. I am already over the donut hole in my plan D. I have been using CVS for years, just because it is so close and convenient.

I had not realized that I could just go to Costo for the pharmacy. The need for the entry fee has kept me away from every kind of membership stores.

You taught me something today.

LMAlphonse said...

I'm so glad I could help, Fibro Witch! Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

Another method to saving on prescriptions is to use a new website called 'Medtipster' that locates the lowest priced generics from reputable pharmacies in your area. All you do is type in your medication, dosage and zip code and the site does the rest of the work. Medtipster is a great way to save time and money...check it out.

Lily said...

I found a good prescription discount card at www.rxdrugcard.com. The website tells everything you need to know, including drug prices.