America’s healthcare crisis was a major campaign platform issue in the 2018 midterm elections. Many voters bemoaned the rising costs of insurance premiums, co-pays and visits to out-of-network specialists to legislators who could possibly implement policies to regulate the prescription drug market. No other issue was more pertinent than the affordability of necessary prescribed medications and candidates who made promises to reduce costs across the board saw great gains and wins at the polls last November.
Prescription costs have always been high. This is how the pharmaceutical companies make money. Epipens, cancer drugs, diabetic supplies, and insulin are among some of the most expensive medications on the market. In the past, insurers, doctors, and patients could rely on more affordable generic options. In an effort to maximize their profit margins and stave off the loss of revenues from regular visits due to exchange rates, some insurers have refused to approve the generic versions and only offer to pay for the name brand ones. This, in turn, affected the rise in premiums as insurers lamented the high cost of prescription meds and implemented premium hikes.
For consumers who rely on medications that provide them with optimal health, some have taken to forming online group exchanges or ordering from overseas at a significantly lower cost. The problem, however, is that one cannot guarantee that what they are getting is the real thing or a counterfeit concoction. This is especially true for prescription opioids as we have seen a rise in the number of fentanyl-related deaths where, oftentimes, the victim was not aware of what they were ingesting or how toxic it may be.
Consumers are always looking for bargains and prescription medications are no different. Exploring options that can reduce the costs of prescription drugs not only benefit your budget, but they can also be life-saving in times like where federal employees are not generating an income due to a partial government shutdown. Regardless if you are trying to save a few hundred dollars or if you cannot afford your prescriptions, here are a few ways to counter the rising costs:
- Sign up for prescription discount cards
- Ask your doctor for samples
- Participate in clinical trials
- Contact community agencies that provide free medications to low income, working class families and the elderly
- Ask your provider if there are equally effective medications that aren’t as costly
- Invest in a medical savings account
- Participate in insurance pools
- Order from doctor recommended websites that offer deep discounts, some even up to 70% off the list price
- Contact the pharmaceutical companies for coupons to present to your local pharmacy
While the cost of medications can break the bank and send a family’s finances spiraling out of control, it isn’t wise to ration your dosages, skip doses or stop taking them altogether. Doing so can have cataclysmic consequences for the individual and those whom they love. As with any and all medical decisions, speak with your doctor about further options before taking action.
Do you have other ideas on how to cut costs on prescription meds? Comment below and let us know your thoughts. Want to keep them private? Shoot us an email to Outreach@
About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, and co-host and producer of “All Our Own” radio show and podcast and co-host of “Staggers State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been featured on MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers. For more of her work, check out her page here!