Taming the Costs of Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are vital to preventing and treating illness. And, sometimes, prescription drugs help us avoid more costly medical problems down the road. However, rising costs of health care and prescription drugs make a big impact on most families’ pocketbooks. According to Kaiser Health News spending in the U.S. for prescription drugs was $259.1 billion in 2010, and is projected to double over the next decade. When you and your doctor feel they are necessary, what can you do to make filling a prescription more affordable? Here are a few tips:

Tip #1: Go Generic

Ask your pharmacist if there is a generic equivalent available for the drug you’re being prescribed. Generic and brand-name drugs contain the same active ingredients. The difference? Companies that produce generic equivalents don’t pay for advertising, so they can charge less.

Tip #2: Know Your Prescription Benefit Plan

Know the extent of your benefit. Do you pay a copay or coinsurance? Do you have to meet a deductible first? Do you have a formulary? Is home delivery/mail order an option or requirement? (Use this to save money on maintenance medications you take regularly.) Each time you receive a prescription from your doctor, make sure you talk about your options.

Tip #3: Use Your Health Care FSA, HSA, HRA (if available)

Contributing money to a reimbursement account—Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA) or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA), whichever is available—allows you to reimburse yourself for your portion of your prescription drug expenses with money that isn’t taxed. It can save you about 30%. Some over-the-counter medicines are even reimbursable!

Tip #4: Use An In-Network Pharmacy

Some plans do not provide any benefit if you use an out - of - network pharmacy. Check your medical plan carrier’s website for a list of network pharmacies and be sure you are using one.

Tip #5: Check Out the Drug Manufacturer's Website for Specialty Medicines

Sometimes discounts or rebates are available from the manufacturer, regardless of the amount you pay at the pharmacy. (This has come in handy with a medication my father needs to manage his Parkinson’s symptoms; insurance only covers a limited supply of the drug.)

Remember, you are your own best advocate. Stay informed and learn all you can about your benefits. Have questions? Call your Diversified Team (262.439.4800), visit your prescription plan’s website for more information, or ask your HR rep, doctor’s office or pharmacist for help.

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