Making the Most of Your Health Plan

How Can I Save on Prescription Drugs?

What is a formulary?

A formulary is the list of drugs that are covered by your health plan. The drugs on the formulary are chosen based on how well they work, how safe they are, and how much they cost. There are two types of drugs on the formulary — generic drugs and brand drugs.

What are generic and brand-name drugs?

The most notable difference between generic and brand-name drugs is cost. Generic drugs cost much less than brand-name drugs, but they’re just as safe and effective. Why? Prescription drugs typically start out as brand-name drugs and they are more expensive because they require extensive research and development, clinical trials, education, and advertising. But years later, when a drug patent expires, the formula can be replicated by other drug companies (with a few small changes, like color, shape, or size of pill). These drug companies can now provide a generic version of the drug less expensively because they don’t have the same upfront costs that the original manufacturer had.

So generic drugs can save you money, and they’re just as safe and effective as their brand-name equivalents. Generic equivalents are not always available, so it’s best to talk with your doctor about whether a generic is available and if it’s right for you.

Generic vs. brand name drugs

How much do I pay for prescription drugs?

Formularies typically have several levels of coverage, also known as tiers, for prescription drugs. You’ll generally pay the lowest out-of-pocket costs for generic drugs, more for brand-name drugs, and the most for drugs that are considered non-formulary. So if you want to save on prescription drugs, it’s best to speak with your doctor about using generic prescription drugs. If you want to see whether a drug is included on your health plan’s formulary and at what level of coverage, you can usually do so on their website or their secure member website.

How can I save with mail-order prescription drugs?

If there are prescriptions you take regularly, you may be able to save money by using mail-order service. Most of the time, you can save money by getting a 90-day supply of your medication for the cost of a 60-day supply, and it’s delivered right to your home for free. Check your plan to see if mail-order is covered, how much you can save, and how to sign up.

Helpful Tips

Save with mail-order

See if your health plan offers mail-order service for prescription drugs. It'll save you a trip to the pharmacy and most of the time, it costs you less.