Prescription drug discount programs brought to light

April 18, 2011 8:42:09 PM PDT
The cost of prescription drugs is a huge drain for many of us, but there are proven strategies that can save you a lot of money. Some of the nation's biggest pharmacies offer significant discounts that many patients simply don't know about.

Hans Raag of Richmond exercises regularly to control his type 2 diabetes and heart condition. Right now he's on four different medications.

"Without the insurance coverage it's a few hundred dollars a month and I was never able to afford them and buy them in that way," said Raag.

Raag has gone without his medication for as long as one year after losing his insurance. He simply couldn't afford it and had to make a choice.

"I would have to give up living in doors. That was it. Rent and food. There was very little else," said Raag.

A federal report found that since 2006 the price of drugs has gone up faster than the overall cost of medical care.

"We're finding year over year gains of anywhere between 8 and 13 percent, for particularly branded medication. But the really good news for consumers is that more medications are going generic," said Lisa Gill, editor of Consumer Reports Health.

A survey by Consumer Reports found nearly every chain pharmacy in the country, even supermarket pharmacies, offer some type of generic discount drug program. One of those is Target. There you can get a 30 day supply of a generic drug for $4 or a three month supply for just $10.

"Right now with the economy it's kind of hard with medications right now, so we try to really provide this as a benefit to our guests," said Sarah Ho from Target.

Target and other retailers offer discounts on hundreds of generic drugs. Each list is different, so you'll need to check to make sure your medication is on that store's list. Target doesn't charge an annual fee, but other retailers do, so check. Some retailers might also have eligibility requirements. Target's does not. The key thing to know is that you need to ask for these discounts.

"We sent out secret shoppers on the phone and in person asking about how much a certain medication was, and only in a few instances was it ever offered that they can get something for less expensive," said Gill.

Right now Raag gets his medical care from LifeLong Medical Care. LifeLong also offers a drug assistance program which assists clients in getting free medications from pharmaceutical companies.

"It's consistent and it works and if there's a problem, they have people to advise you on what you can do to correct it," said Raag.

See the links above for drug assistance programs and generic drug discount programs.


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