Saving Money at the Pharmacy

Published on 01 June 2015

Saving money at the pharmacy starts with a conversation with your pharmacist. It is extremely important to have all your prescriptions filled at one pharmacy. Filling some prescriptions at one pharmacy, and others at a second pharmacy can lead to dangerous drug interactions or duplications. By consolidating all of your prescriptions with one pharmacist they’re able to see your whole medication picture. The pharmacist will also be able to:

Talk to you about generics

Your health insurance likely insists on using generics whenever possible, which gives you the best price. The pharmacist may also know about supply issues, and potentially make you aware of a coming increase or decrease in cost. That way you’ll be able to budget in advance and not be surprised. The pharmacist may also know about a discount program or co-pay plan run by the medication manufacturer which will reduce your cost.

Talk about alternative, less expensive medication

Your pharmacist knows exactly how much you’ll be paying for each prescription. It can change from month to month. If there are multiple medications on the market which treat the same condition, the price of one may drop. Also, your insurance company may change coverage for your prescription. Your pharmacist will work with your physician to see if a switch is right for you.

Potentially reduce the number of medications

Patients usually have multiple physicians, but only one pharmacist. The physicians don’t always know what each one is prescribing. Some medications may interact, others may be able to be combined. Your pharmacist is the medication expert on your health care team. The pharmacist will be able to look at your complete list of medications. In some cases, there may be a combination medicine which can replace multiple medications. This could reduce cost.

Encourage you to take your medication as prescribed

Taking your medication as prescribed is the best thing you can do to reduce overall health care costs. Pharmacists will remind you to take all of your antibiotics to resolve an infection and reduce the chance it will return. Forgetting maintenance medication for high blood pressure, asthma, or any number of other long-term conditions can send you to the hospital.  That’s when the bills really start piling up. Your pharmacist knows when you haven’t been refilling that important prescription and may call in and check on you.  

Discuss Medicare and health plan options

During open enrollment season, your pharmacist is an excellent resource for discussing benefits and drawback of Medicare prescription plans. The pharmacist will review the plan’s covered medications and help you compare that to your medication history, assisting in choosing the plan which best suits your needs.

-Jamie Shelly, Pharm.D.

Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice

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