Autoimmune diseases are expensive. Here are 8 money saving tips that will help you save a few bucks at the pharmacy. Don’t overpay for your medication or supplies again!
8 Money Saving Tips That Will Help You Save a Few Bucks At the Pharmacy
Diabetes is expensive. So is Hashimotos. And really every autoimmune condition. So here are some ways you can save money on your monthly medication & supplies. Even if you’re not spending a lot at the pharmacy right now, a little savings can go a long way, especially compounded over time!
1. Try the Generic Version
Generic versions are often much cheaper because the manufacturers don’t face the same cost as the brand-name makers. This is because the brand-name makers invented the drug, which is ridiculously expensive to do. We’re talking millions of dollars invested into research trials, marketing, advertising, distributions, and more!
That’s why drug patents exist – they give companies a number of years when only THEY can profit on the product that they invested so much into it. Once the patent expires on a brand-name drug, other companies can make it without all the upfront cost and leg work. Meaning they can afford to sell it for much cheaper.
Generic and brand-name meds have the same active ingredients. The only difference is their in-active ingredients and/or their time release properties. In-active ingredients can cause side effects so it’s important to know what the inactive ingredients are in both the brand-name and generic version.
2. Compare Pharmacy Pricing
Pharmaceutical pricing varies between pharmacies. That’s right. Your insulin or thyroid meds at CVS might be cheaper than Rite Aid. There are lots of sites you can use to compare pricing, but I find that SingleCare.com is the best. Just type in your medication and zip code and they’ll show you the pharmacies with the best pricing.
3. Use Manufacturers Coupons
Most pharmaceutical manufacturers offer coupons. Just google, “(your medication) + manufacturers coupon”. For example, “Tirosint + manufacturers coupon“. Depending on your insurance coverage these coupons may be a savings for you or they may not. But it’s worth a quick google search!
4. Use a Savings Card
Savings cards are a bit different than manufacturers coupons in that it’s not the manufacturer offering the savings, it’s a third party. There could be some advantages to this: if you didn’t meet the criteria for the manufactures coupon (some manufacturer coupons exclude people on medicare/medicaid, have refill limits, etc) then you may be able to save with a savings card.
There’s a lot of companies out there that offer savings cards and VeryWellHealth breaks them all down (read their full article here):
- The Best Overall: GoodRx
- Use for Local Pharmacies: Optum Perks
- Best for Future Savings: SingleCare
- Great for On-the-Go: ScriptSave WellRx
- Excellent for Home Delivery: Blink Health
- Best for Chronic Illness: RxSaver
5. Don’t Go Through Insurance
Depending on your insurance plan, it might not make sense to get your scripts through them. I was once on an insurance plan that had a $10,000 deductible I had to meet before they covered the cost for ANYTHING. And get this, my CGM cost for the month was $300 through insurance…. without insurance it was $75. Even with their ridiculously high prescription cost I would be no where near reaching my deductible for it to be worth it. So sometimes friends, it just makes sense to NOT go through your insurance company.
If you don’t have insurance at all or choose not to go through them then you need to read my post on How to Pay for Diabetes Supplies Without Insurance.
6. Have Binge Years & Purge Years
Having binge years and purge years are a great way to save money on prescriptions. The idea is to fill your scripts as often as you possibly can – even if you don’t need them right away – FILL IT. You want to hit your deductible as fast as possible so that everything else for the rest of the year is free (or at least mostly covered by your insurance company). The next year, your purge year, you can live off your stock pile without spending a dime.
Here are some tips for growing your stock pile, FAST!
AutoRefill: Have your scripts set to auto refill and pick them up the same day they are available.
Get More Than You Need: Have your doctor write a script for more than you need. It’s always good to have extra on hand regardless if you’re doing this method or now, but it’s especially important if you are doing it. How this might look:
- Insulin: If you use 20 units of insulin daily have your doctor write a script for 35-40 units daily. There are times when you might truly need more like sick days, ovulation days, or just you ate more carbs – so this isn’t a crazy request.
- CMG: Tell your doctor they don’t stay on for the full 7 days.
- Insulin Pump: Tell your doctor you’d like some buffer for those times when it rips off or you just aren’t getting good absorption and need to change it. For Omnipod users this would be 1 pod every 2 days instead of 3 – but try to wear that sucker for the full 3 days PLUS the additional 8 hour bonus window you get at the end.
90-Day Fills: Get a 90 day supply whenever possible. Not only is this a considerable cost savings (see below), but it’s a great way to stock up fast, especially during your last month of coverage.
7. Get 90-Day Fills
Buying in bulk can often get you a cost savings. This might be tricky with something like thyroid meds when your labs are all over the place and you’re trying to nail down a dose, but once your labs are steady load up on a 90 day supply!
8. Don’t Order Supplies Through The Pharmacy
This goes along with #5, but takes it a step further. As you know, sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to go through insurance. And sometimes it doesn’t even make sense to go through a pharmacy. Supplies like blood sugar meters, test strips, ketone strips, alcohol swabs, and more can all be bought on Amazon or places like Target – and often for FAR less money! I’ve also seen a lot of people in T1D Facebook groups offering to ship their unused supplies to fellow T1D’s (like someone who was on Tslim but is now switching to Omnipod and has a TON of unopened Tslim supplies).
What To Do if You Cannot Afford Prescriptions
If you can’t afford your prescriptions apply for Prescription Assistance Programs (PAPs). Prescription Assistance Programs are for people who need medication but can’t afford it. They are offered by drug manufactures, state or local governments, and non profits. Most require you to show proof of financial need. NeedyMeds.org, Medicare Extra Help Program, Medicare search tool, and Medicine Assistance Tool are great places to start researching if PAPs is something you’re interested in.
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