A concerning and frustrating issue for many on prescription medication is the continual rising costs and availability creating roadblocks for patients receiving proper health care treatment. Many patients are finding that they are bearing more and more of the cost burden than ever before. This puts patients in a position of having to choose between filling a costly prescription or not and, in turn, paying the consequences of missed doses that can lead to their illness not being treated and their negative health outcomes.
Instead of feeling frustrated and worried over your ability to pay for medication you need to stay well, take advantage of strategies that can help find solutions to make them more affordable and accessible. Here’s how:
- Discuss your concerns with your doctor
A study from the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging found that 27 percent of 2,131 participants, ages 50 to 80, considered their prescription medications a financial burden. Yet nearly half of them never mentioned the burden to their doctors. Yet out-of-pocket drug costs are a medical issue you should bring up with your doctor, and they also have a responsibility to check on their patient’s access to their medications.
Doctors can often recommend cheaper alternative medications, if available. This same study found that 67 percent of patients who discussed drug costs with their doctors were able to be told of a less-expensive option.
- Have this same discussion with your pharmacist
Your pharmacist is the next person to have this same discussion with on finding cheaper medications. They will often know whether your insurance plan covers a particular drug or its costs. The National Poll on Healthy Aging study found that 37 percent of patients who inquired of their pharmacists about drug costs did have luck on recommendations of less-expensive drugs. Pharmacists may also be aware of other money-savers, such as prescription discount cards and patient assistance programs for some medications.
- Switch to generics or other lower-cost drugs
Ask your doctor and pharmacist if there a generic or another low-cost alternative besides a costly, brand-name drug that works just as well.
- Utilize coupon savings
If you are using a medication that does not have a cheaper generic equivalent, check for opportunities for coupon savings from the drug manufacturer. If your employer or private insurance has a commercial prescription insurance plan, you are eligible for substantial reductions on monthly copays with these coupon savings programs. Drug companies sometimes offer these coupons to help your copay comparable to less expensive medications your insurance will cover. This helps keep medications competitive and accessible for consumers. Check the drug manufacturer’s website for these coupons for brand-name medications.
Patient assistance programs
If you find out you are not eligible to qualify for a coupon savings program from the manufacturer, many of the brand-name drug manufacturers have Patient Assistance Programs for uninsured or low-income patients. Use the manufacture’s website to see if these programs are available or check for the drug name at RXAssist.org, a nationally recognized resource helping patients find reliable assistance programs for reducing medication costs.
If you already use generic medications, try RXOutreach.com for discounted rates available for patients who qualify based on their household income.
- The most important thing to remember
For the sake of your health, avoid not taking your medications. It can be tempting to skip doses or just forego filling a prescription altogether. But this only can lead to your illness or condition becoming worse. In the long run, not taking your medication will cost you far more since if your go untreated or under-medicated, it can result in serious and expensive healthcare outcomes such as hospitalizations, emergency room visits, missed work days, and an overall reduction in your health.
Keep taking your medications, and never stop taking them without consulting with your doctor first. Take advantage of preventive appointments and annual well-care visits. Become an advocate for your health by working as a team with the pharmacist and your doctor to find the most affordable and effective medications you need together.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.