Take Control and Reduce the Cost of Prescription Drugs

Americans are spending billions on prescription drugs, but there are ways for individuals to exercise some control over the high cost of taking a pill.

According to a recent article in Fox Business, Americans spent $269.2 billion on prescription drugs in 2011. And as baby boomers age, this is only likely to grow.

There is help: Seniors in the “donut hole”, who are now responsible for paying for their drugs, qualify for discounts-50 percent on brand-name drugs and 14 percent on generic drugs covered by Medicare Part D. As well, the government has implemented a one-time $250 rebate check, but this is a drop in the bucket for many seniors.

Prescription-drug coverage is surprisingly affordable, but it’s important to find a plan appropriate to your circumstances. Plans vary widely, and you need to do your homework. Your insurance professional can suggest a plan that works for your needs.

That said, you too have a role to play in keeping down prescription costs. Here are two suggestions:

Switch to generic drugs: Even though you may get a larger discount on brand-name drugs, the cost of generic drugs is generally lower. In most plans, copayments are also lower for generic drugs, and the result is overall savings.

Shop around for pharmacies: The cost of the same drug varies from pharmacy to pharmacy; let your fingers do the walking. Even easier, mobile phone users can get free apps that compare prices between pharmacies. Free discount cards are also widely available from many sources, including insurers and pharmacies.