How to save money on prescription drugs in 2019

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Americans spend more on drugs than people in any other country, but two recently passed bills may help lower costs.

Saving money on prescriptions may be as simple as just asking the pharmacist.

A March 2018 study found that for about one out of five prescriptions, insurers required people to pay more using their insurance than if they paid the pharmacy's retail price.

One reason this happened: Gag clauses. The clauses prevented pharmacists from telling people there might be a lower price by not using your insurance.

But not anymore.

"Gag clauses were something Consumer Reports surfaced years ago. We worked with a lot of state legislators to help pass state-by-state laws to help curtail this practice. And then, this past October, two bills were passed in Congress to put an end to this practice at a national level, which is a terrific win for consumers," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Lisa Gill.

"We can actually help the consumer a whole lot more. For example, last night, a lady came in for an antibiotic ointment. We filled it, ran it through her insurance and it was $192," said pharmacist William Stroud. "Put it through for the cash price and it was just $15."

The No. 1 thing to do is ask: "Is this the lowest possible price on my medication?"

There are some other ways to be money smart with meds.

"Make sure that you're taking a generic. Generics are a terrific option for most people and will save you boatloads of money. Ask, 'Can I get a three-month prescription or a 90-day fill instead of just a 30-day fill? It'll save at least one co-pay, sometimes two," Gill added.

If your insurance company doesn't cover your drug very well or doesn't cover it at all, it's time to start shopping around.

A manufacturer has different types of programs. Sometimes the program is for people who earn less than a certain amount of money, so it's called a patient-assistance program. For people who make more than that and have commercial insurance, they often offer discount coupons to help you fill prescriptions, usually for up to a year.

There's a website that's terrific. It's called www.needymeds.org. Go to that website, type in your drug and you'll see all different types of coupons available, including the manufacturer coupon.

Check www.goodrx.com, and check www.blinkhealth.com. Both will show you, based on your zip code, a comparison of the best discounts they can get from different pharmacies in your area. You may be surprised at the money you can save.
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