I spent most of my morning at the doctor today. My asthma has been acting up for over a month now and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve been putting off going to the doctor (laziness? fear? I’m not sure) but it’s to the point where I can’t sleep at night and I’m draining all of my emergency inhalers. I just couldn’t avoid it any longer.
At the beginning of this year our health insurance benefits changed slightly. Our office and prescription co-pays stayed the same but now we are required to pay 10% of the cost of any bloodwork performed (up to $100).
After puffing on a new cocktail of nebulizer meds and getting an injection in my hip of something that burned like crazy I was able to breathe fully again. Whew! To help me get over this flare up I’ve been prescribed a host of new meds. It’s a bummer (I still have 2 months worth of the old meds left at home) but I’m hoping this new stuff will do the trick.
I’ve been saving money by getting my long term meds in 3-month supplies by mail order. Unfortunately, this time we are experimenting with new meds so I had to get them one month at a time at Walgreens. There goes my medical budget for the month! I paid $10 for the visit co-pay and a whopping $125 in prescription co-pays. Asthma inhalers are pricey right now and generics are hard to find due to recent formula changes. Blood was drawn during this visit, too. I’ll have to add that 10% fee to the overall damage when I get the bill. Sigh.
The good news is that despite being lightheaded from the steroids I remembered to ask three very important questions about the new meds he was prescribing me:
- Do you have any in-office samples or freebies?
- Do you have coupons or vouchers I can use at the pharmacy for that med?
- Does that med come in generic form or is there a cheaper alternative?
By simply asking those questions I was able to get:
- 2 full size samples of the new inhalers (worth $70 in co-pays)
- 2 coupons for the future refills of those inhalers (worth $25 off)
- I switched a different long term med to a cheaper alternative (saving $30 a month in co-pays).
I also nonchalantly asked if I would need a prescription to get some replacement tubing/mouthpiece for my nebulizer and he slipped me a new set for free. That was a big help because I would have had to go to a specialty medical store for that. I totally scored.
So even though I had to spend over $125 in meds today I was able to get over $125 in freebies and discounts. Just goes to show it never hurts to ask questions about your meds at the doctor’s office (even if everything else that happens there hurts). You might be surprised at what you can save.
Man, that was one painful injection! I’m gonna be sore for days, I just know it…
Image Source: Son of Groucho
Have you ever looked into the actual cost of your medications? Could you be paying more in co-pays than your medicine actually costs without insurance?
A friend of mine told me about an issue she discovered when she changed health insurance plans recently. She had been paying her monthly co-pay of $15 for one of her long term medications for years. She never thought twice about it and naturally assumed the medication was more expensive than the co-pay. After all, prescriptions are notorious for being budget busters for people without insurance.
When she was switching to her new health insurance plan she ended up having to pay for this medication outright for a time. She found it cost only $6.45 to buy the same medication without the insurance plan. That’s a savings of $8.55 a month if she paid for it up front without insurance.
From that point on she has paid for that medication without her prescription plan and has saved money. She couldn’t believe that she had over paid all those years and now when she gets a new medication she asks the pharmacist what the cost would be without insurance. Most of the time the price is higher than the co-pay but you never know unless you ask.
She urged me to check with my pharmacist to make sure that none of my medications were actually cheaper than I was paying with my co-pay. I did and all my prescriptions cost more than my co-pay so it would be best for me to buy them on plan.
Non-generics are almost guaranteed to be more expensive than your co-pay. But common, widely used generics that have been around for a long time may actually be cheaper than the co-pay you are paying. You might also check Sam’s Club and Costco for deals. On many generics they offer very low prices.
I realize that not everyone will see any cost savings from this but I figure that if my friend was able to save money by avoiding her co-pay it could save others money, too. It is at least worth a shot if you are on any common generic prescriptions.
Make sure your prescription co-pay is helping rather than hurting your checkbook. Check with your pharmacist and make sure you aren’t paying more than you need to.