Trimming Your Prescription Price Tag
(NAPSI)-The National Institute on Health
Care Management reports that Americans spent $175.2 billion on
prescription drugs in 2001, with an average cost per prescription of
$49.84, and according to the Medco Health Solutions 2002 Drug Trend
report, prescription drug use in some categories has increased 600
With millions of Americans taking one or
more prescriptions, consumers may be searching for a way to cut that
"Cutting the cost of your prescription
drugs is not difficult, and results from taking an active role in your
treatment," says Dr. Glenn Stettin, vice president of clinical products
for Medco Health Solutions.
Whether its families simply looking to
save or seniors living on a fixed income, Stettin recommends the
following tips for reducing the prescription drug price tag:
• In generic terms. Generics are
gaining in popularity among physicians and patients alike, due largely
to generic health programs like Medco's Generics First program. Generics
contain the same active ingredient as their brand-name counterparts,
making them just as safe and effective-plus they can provide as much as
60 percent in savings.
• The non-drug route. Lifestyle
changes can alleviate symptoms for which prescription drugs are being
taken. For example, reducing caffeine, alcohol and chocolate; avoiding
tight-fitting clothing; and quitting smoking can help reduce symptoms of
heartburn-a free alternative to expensive medications.
• Understand the plan. If you have
health coverage that includes a drug benefit, understanding how the plan
works can save you money. Know what is and isn't covered, and how your
out-of-pocket costs are structured.
• The condition you're in. Some
conditions, such as colds and flu, can be treated more effectively with
over-the-counter medications than with more expensive prescriptions.
• Getting off course. Some
prescriptions may include multiple refills for a temporary condition.
Having the refills does not necessarily mean you must use them.
• Free-thinking. If you're on a
fixed income, diagnosed with a new condition or prescribed a new
therapy, ask your doctor about samples. Many doctors like to provide
patients with drug samples in order to determine if any side effects
will be experienced-before the person goes to the expense of filling the
• Two for one. It may be less
expensive to take on 20 mg pill than two 10 mg pills for the same
effect. Similarly, it may be cheaper to split a 100 mg tablet in two
than to buy twice as many 50 mg tablets.
• Shop around. The cost of
prescription drugs varies from pharmacy to pharmacy. If you have a drug
plan, mail order pharmacies, such as Medco Health's Home Delivery
Pharmacy Service may lower your out-of-pocket costs. If you don't have
drug coverage, explore discount buying programs like Medco Health's
YOURxPlan for major savings.
• Make note. Consumers should
inform their doctor(s) of what their drug coverage includes, and even
ask that it be noted in their medical record. This will help doctors
appreciate the portion of the prescription cost that the patient will
Above all, Dr. Stettin recommends
consumers become partners with their doctors in their therapy.
"Communication is key," he says. "By actively researching their
conditions, the prescription drugs they take and the alternatives
available, consumers will receive better care and could cut their health
care costs significantly."
For more information about the Medco
Health savings plans, visit the Web site at
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