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Health Care Hacks: Save on prescription drugs

If you're paying more than $30 per month on medication, stop right there.
Credit: KARE

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Does it ever frustrate you how much you have to pay for prescription drugs, even though you're already paying for your health insurance? You pay your premium every month, and then you might pay an additional $60 per month on medications.

We've got a couple of hacks to help you save money on those medications, from our expert health care hacker Jonathon Hess, of Athos Health.

Caveat: This is only relevant to people with commercial insurance. That means it's from their employers or the exchange. This does not apply to those with Medicare or Medicaid.

Hack #1: Manufacturer copay cards

This one's for those of us who take brand name drugs. Many times, the manufacturer will pay your copay for you - or most of it.

So how does it work?

The first step is very simple: Google your drug. Do a web search with your drug’s name and "copay card" For example, you may search the term "(Drug name) copay card."

When you find the manufacturer's site, you can fill out a form with some simple information like your name, address and date of birth, and they will send you a copay card.

Next time you go to the pharmacy, give them your insurance card and they'll quote you the copay. You may owe something like $200. Then you can give them the copay card and the manufacturer covers it for you. Your copay may go down to $5 or nothing at all.

It depends brand to brand how much you'll save, but it's often significant.

Hack #2: Coupons

For those of us who take generic drugs, here's another one that sounds pretty simple. Coupons.

There has been a revolution in the last couple of years with companies such as GoodRx, SingleCare and Honeybee that allow you to pay cash for less than you would pay with your copay.

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The only negative is, it's outside your insurance. So the money you pay does not count toward your deductible or your out-of-pocket max.

In one example, Hess worked with a family whose teen son was taking Adderall. Their copay was $120 per month. By using a cash coupon program, they were able to go to the same pharmacy and get the same drug for $45 per month.

Hack #3: Mail-order pharmacies

You can use mail order pharmacies to, in some cases, get the cost down even lower than with a cash coupon card.

So to recap. If you're spending more than $30 per month on prescription drugs, try these hacks:

  • If it’s a brand name drug, Google the brand name and "copay card" to see if the manufacturer offers a card.
  • If it’s generic or if you don’t find a copay card, search the name of the drug and “coupon.” Up will pop a lot of sites that allow you to search to see what the retail price is.
  • If neither of those are helping, or if you just want to compare the cost, check out the price in a mail-order pharmacy!

Jonathon Hess is the CEO of Athos Health, which helps people avoid unnecessary health care costs. Jon has two decades of experience in the health care industry.

If you have a question about your health care costs, or a topic you'd like us to cover in Health Care Hacks, email us at healthcarehacks@kare11.com.

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