A recent article in Time Magazine’s Money section highlighted some incredible numbers:
“Drug prices (in the United States) have risen an average of nearly 10% over the 12-month period ending in May 2016 - a time when the overall inflation rate was just 1% in the U.S - while food and alcohol prices have risen 2.8%, and clothing and accessories are up 5.7%.”
In other words, the retail cost of prescription drugs has risen at 10 times the rate of inflation in the last year. And this isn’t an unfortunate statistical outlier. This same 10% average increase in retail prices has occurred three years in a row in the United States.
As the article argues, consumers would otherwise not stand for such a huge series of price hikes affecting any other product. But, prescription drugs fall into a different class. For many Americans, they are necessary to maintain life or improve debilitating health issues.
What can you do about the cost of prescription drugs?
This information about prescription costs probably isn’t shocking if you’ve been to the pharmacy lately. While it remains to be seen how this situation may change in the future, there are things you can do now to help lower the cost of vital prescription drugs you and your family need to purchase.
When you’re prescribed a medication, ask your doctor if the name-brand drug being prescribed is available in a generic version, and if it’s healthy for you to switch to the generic.
Why? The generic version of the same medication is often tremendously less expensive and can provide instant savings without sacrificing quality.
Mail order pharmacies
"Prescription drugs fall into a different class. For many Americans, they are necessary to maintain life or improve debilitating health issues."
For maintenance drugs (prescriptions you’ll be taking for the foreseeable future,) mail order pharmacies offer a cost-saving option based on volume discounts. In most cases, these pharmacies will fill prescriptions in 90-day supplies rather than the customary 30-day supply dispensed at the drugstore, and that higher volume of medication can be sold at a lower unit cost.
A third option that has become very popular in recent years incorporates the two above options along with a panel of participating pharmacies that offer significant discounts on the cost of prescription drugs. These prescription discounts are often available as a prescription savings card.
For example, the prescription discount plan offered by Dental Solutions, provides members who visit a participating pharmacist discounts of up to 60% off the retail cost of generic drugs or up to 25% off the cost of their name brand alternatives. Members also receive access to the MedVantx mail order pharmacy program for further savings on maintenance prescriptions dispensed in 90-day supplies.
These prescription discounts offer an excellent cost saving option for individuals and families as an alternative to prescription drug benefits through insurance.
While you may not have control over the rising retail cost of prescription drugs, you do have control over helping make them affordable so that life-improving (even life-sustaining) prescriptions remain available for you and your family.