Managing Money

Five Ways to Save on Prescription Drugs

February 4, 2008

Health care costs continue to rise and the cost of prescription drugs, in particular, can be a burden to individuals and families. Here are five strategies you can use to save on prescription drugs.

1. Ask if it’s absolutely necessary. A prescription drug can be prescribed for almost any condition imaginable. And while at times those drugs can improve someone’s quality of life considerably or even be life-saving, there are other times when lifestyle changes or something as simple as giving a condition time to clear on its own might be acceptable too. You’ll want to have an in depth conversation with your doctor before going the drug-free route but it might be something to consider.

2. Ask for samples. Pharmaceutical companies give samples to doctors for their patients to try and many doctors offer these to their patients as a matter of course. If your doctor doesn’t, ask him or her if any samples are available, particularly if the drug being prescribed is one you’ve never taken before. That could avoid a costly experiment if you end up having a reaction to the medication or find it’s ineffective for you.

3. Ask for generics. Many drugs come in a less expensive, generic version and doctors are often willing to have a generic substituted for a name brand if available. Ask your doctor about that at the time the prescription is written so that he or she can note that on the form.

4. Use mail order. Many forms of health insurance offer a mail order pharmacy option where medications are less expensive. It is not uncommon to get a 90 day supply of medication for the cost of a 60 day supply. This is ideal for medications taken on a daily basis. The prescription will need to be written this way so check out your mail order options before your doctor’s visit.

5. Use coupons. Pharmacies are always competing and it’s not uncommon to see coupons that offer a free drug store gift card for a new or transferred prescription. I’ve seen gift card offers in amounts from $10 to $35. Some pharmacies will accept competitor’s coupons as well.

  1. I found a great prescription discount card at It costs only $4.50 a month to have the card. They have posted their prescription prices on the website to check before you enroll. I think that is the best drug card available for prescription discounts. No-one should have to pay the full cash price.

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