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5 Ways To Help Your Patients Save

Patients in the U.S. pay more per capita than any other industrialized nation in the world for prescriptions.

Patients in the U.S. pay more per capita than any other industrialized nation in the world for prescriptions. It might seem like no big deal to pay $30 or $40 for a medication when it’s an occasional thing. But, if your patients need multiple drugs or are treating a chronic condition, it can mean a hefty price tag at the pharmacy counter.

Twenty-five percent of adults who take a prescription have trouble affording it, according to data collected by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s a number that’s undoubtedly risen in 2020: Many people lost their jobs because of COVID-19—and with it, the insurance they had through their employers. If the treatment you prescribe is too expensive, your patients may never fill their prescriptions or take it improperly to cut costs. That lack of adherence could land them in your office again, potentially with a more severe issue. However, there are ways you can help them save.

1. Explain how to compare prices

Most people know that a flight's cost might vary between airlines. However, many patients may not realize that the price of medication changes from one pharmacy to the next. If your patients are worried about the expense, let them know that shopping around—or trying a big box store—could net more savings. 

They don’t have to run all over town to compare prices. Instead, they can search for their medication with SingleCare. They simply enter the zip code and see what it will cost at local pharmacies. Then all you need to do is send their prescription to the pharmacy that offers the lower price. It is that simple.

2. Educate patients on pharmacy savings cards 

Prescription discount cards, like SingleCare, are free, easy to use, and can help patients reduce prices by up to 80%. Sometimes the cost of a medication with a savings card can be lower than an insurance copay. They will need to know to choose one or the other. 

But SingleCare isn’t the only one. Blink Health and GoodRx offer prescription discounts without insurance as well. Make sure the patient is aware: They will have to pay a membership fee to get the best prices with some services. 

3. Suggest coupons or prescription assistance

For newer (often more expensive) drugs, the manufacturers offer coupons for people with certain qualifications. Or, some retail pharmacies might offer coupons as an enticement for new customers to fill an Rx with them. But, like pharmacy savings cards, your patients might not know these ways to save. 

Educate them on these and prescription assistance programs (PAPs) that help people who need medication but cannot afford it. If your patient seems uneasy about the price, there are aid programs from state or local governments and nonprofits. The site can help your patients figure out where to start.

4. Prescribe the generic or a 90-day supply

A generic and brand have the same active ingredients, so the efficacy for treating your patient’s condition is the same. The main difference? The generic is usually a lot friendlier to your patients’ wallets. For example, the anticonvulsant medication Lamictal XR has a retail price of over $1000. The generic lamotrigine ER is half that. The price drops even lower with a prescription savings card or another coupon.   

For routine medications, you might consider a three-month prescription. Refilling once instead of three times could help your patients save on copays. According to a University of Chicago study, it could cut costs by nearly 30%.

5. Schedule a medication review

Have an open conversation with your patients about whether the cost is an issue. If they’re having trouble affording treatment, you might be able to recommend different medications. Review all of the prescriptions that they are taking. An equivalent drug might be less expensive on their insurance plan. Or, there may be a prescription they’ve been taking for years that’s no longer needed. Ask patients about lifestyle changes that might make medication unnecessary.

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