How Can I Save on Prescription Drugs?
Whether you take medications regularly or for the occasional illness, it pays to know how your prescription drug plan works. To help you get the most value out of your plan and pay the lowest possible cost for your prescriptions, follow these simple steps.
Choose medications on your plan’s formulary
A formulary is the list of drugs that are covered by your health plan. Formularies typically have several levels of coverage, also known as tiers, for prescription drugs. The drugs on the formulary are chosen based on how well they work, how safe they are, and how much they cost.
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. 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 the health plan’s secure member website.
Choose generic drugs over brand 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 at a lower price because they don’t have the same upfront costs that the original manufacturer had.
Generic equivalents are not always available, so it’s best to speak with your doctor to see if one is available and if it’s right for you.
Select a pharmacy in your plan’s network
To ensure you’re paying the lowest possible cost for your prescriptions, you must fill your prescriptions at participating pharmacies within your health plan's pharmacy network. Some health plans have smaller pharmacy networks, so be sure to find out which pharmacy near you is included in the health plan's network.
Take advantage of mail-order*
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.