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14 ways to save on prescription drugs

14 ways to save on prescription drugs
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Charis Brown |

If you’ve noticed prescription drug prices increasing dramatically over the past few years — you’re not alone.

Read more: A tale of two prescriptions: Take a look at these wild price fluctuations​

The cost of prescription drugs has doubled

According to a study on pricing trends released by the AARP, the average cost of a year’s supply of a prescription drugs doubled to more than $11,000 over the last 7 years. This amounts to about 75% of the average Social Security benefit. The AARP also found — unfortunately — that these price increases will only continue to climb.

“If these trends continue, more and more Americans will simply be unable to afford the medications that they need to get and stay healthy,” said Debra Whitman, AARP’s chief public policy officer.

The average retail price among 622 common prescription medicines increased from $5,571 in 2006 to $11,341 in 2013 — more than doubling the cost.

In addition, prices for drugs that treat cancer, hepatitis and rare diseases skyrocketed. In 2013, the average cost for a specialty drug was $53,384 — 189 times higher than the average annual cost for a generic drug, which was $283.

Meanwhile, the average Social Security benefit in 2013 was $15,526, and the median income for Medicare was $23,500.

“This shift has serious implications for older adults and the entire health care system,” commented Leigh Purvis, director of health services research in AARP’s Public Policy Institute.

Some reasons for the increases

Big price increases can happen from a shortage or change in insurance coverage.

Additionally, manufacturers may raise prices because there are no competitors selling the product, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. In addition, some of these price increases are partly due to purchases of the drug by other drug companies.

Regardless of the reasons, the increases of drug prices have caused significant strain on many people’s wallets. Below are 14 ways you can save!

Read more: Is your doctor being paid by Big Pharma? Here’s how to tell

14 ways to save on prescriptions

  1. Check out Clark’s prescription plan guide.
  2. Shop around for the best price. Consumer Reports found that costs can vary as much as 10 times more at one retailer versus another!
  3. Shop online (But, be carefulThis video shows you how to do it safely.)
  4. If you’re on Medicare, check out
  5. Check your Medicare Part D eligibility.
  6. Avoid chain drugstores – shop at mom and pop drugstores instead.
  7. Ask for a “biosimilar” or a buy a generic whenever possible. Generics are 80-85% cheaper!
  8. Bypass health insurance. Cash customers sometimes pay less.
  9. See if there’s an “OTC”, over the counter option.
  10. Use a PBM (pharmacy benefit manager).
  11. Ask for a 90-day prescription.
  12. Ask the drugstore if this is the lowest price.
  13. Use coupons and savings programs. The best way to start: Ask your pharmacist for any coupons that are available.
  14. Use apps and websites like GoodRx or Lowest Med which finds the least expensive price on your prescription near you.
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