How to find cheaper prescription drugs

As a whole, the U.S. is an incredibly medicated country. Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center researchers recently published a study showing that 70% of…
How to find cheaper prescription drugs

Prescription medication bills can easily run you into the hundreds of dollars if you can’t manage the costs or have proper insurance. (Mikael Altermark/Flickr)

As a whole, the U.S. is an incredibly medicated country. Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center researchers recently published a study showing that 70% of Americans rely on at least one prescription drug.

SEE ALSO: Lack of information on prescription drugs during pregnancy

Of that 70%, a whopping 20% take at least five different kinds of prescription drugs. With such rampant prescription drug use in the U.S., it’s surprising that medications aren’t more affordable. Fortunately, there are painless ways to find cheaper medications. Here are a few recommendations:

Go generic

What do many of us do to save money at the grocery store? We buy generic products instead of being lured by their flashy brand-name equivalents. The same strategy saves you money when shopping for prescription drugs.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, generic drugs are up to 85% cheaper than brand name drugs. Generic drugs are more affordable because manufacturers don’t have to perform extensive, and expensive, clinical trials, nor do they have to invest a lot of money to market their products.

This doesn’t mean that generic drugs aren’t as safe as brand name drugs. In fact, the FDA assures us that we aren’t sacrificing quality when we select generic drugs.

Split high-dosage pills

Splitting high-dosage pills is another easy way to save money without harming your health. It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that not all pills can be split. Look for a straight indentation at the center of the pill. If you see this line, it means you can split the pill. Time-release capsules, for example, shouldn’t be split in two. Always remember to ask your doctor if pill splitting is an option for you.

Find help

Although plenty of assistance programs exist, it can be difficult to make good use of them. Nothing illustrates this point better than Medicare’s Prescription Drug Plan, or Part D, which was created to help people pay for their prescription drugs.

Unfortunately, knowing how to take full advantage of Part D often requires a certain amount of background knowledge that some people simply don’t have. This is because Part D can only be accessed through private insurers, which means there are lots of different options. For those of us, for instance, who aren’t quite sure of how to maximize your benefits, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the various assistance programs.

SEE ALSO: 4 tips for saving money if you’re uninsured

Final thoughts to save on medication

If the cost of your prescriptions is placing a strain on your wallet, know that there are ways to deal with this burden. As with any other product, there are plenty of cost-efficient methods to get your medications.

These three points should give you a solid foundation to build upon — and look here for even more tips to save money on your prescriptions.

Tony Armstrong writes for NerdWallet Health, a website that empowers consumers to find high quality, affordable health care and insurance.