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Do these 5 things to save on Medicare prescription costs

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
5 ways to save on Medicare prescriptions drugs that you can do now

Prescription medications can be costly, especially for Medicare recipients with limited income. If you are on multiple medications, cost can easily add up with co-payments. There are steps you can take to help cut down on drug costs.


Here are 5 things you can do to save on Medicare prescription drug costs starting now.


Set aside a small amount of money throughout the year. Many drug plans have a deductible that has to be met at the beginning of each year, yet many people on Medicare are unaware. Paying the deductible quickly means your medications costs will revert to smaller copayments.

Share your drug formulary with your doctor

Follow your drug formulary. Many physicians don’t know what your individual drug plan covers. Tier 1 drugs are the least expensive. Many drug plans offer 90 days worth of prescriptions at zero cost for generics. A good idea is to ask your insurance company for a formulary list (or you can print one) that you can take to the doctor.

Read those letters sent by your insurance company. Most companies send information about switching to lower cost formulary medications that you can discuss with your doctor. Alternatives are generally medications that are comparable to the higher cost medication your doctor may have prescribed.

Shop for non-covered medications

If you must take a medication that is not covered and your insurance won’t approve it, shop for the best price. Costco (and you don’t have to be a member) has the least expensive markup on medications. Ask your pharmacy if they have coupons for non-covered drugs. CVS for example has a discount drug card that they can print right at the pharmacy to help you save money on non-covered medication or possibly those with higher copayments.

Pay close attention to the Medicare coverage gap

Once your total drug costs reach 3700 dollars in 2017 you will pay more for your medications - no more 40 percent of the cost of brand name drugs and 51 percent of the cost of generic drugs.

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If you take expensive medications you might just be aware of what you’re paying and not the total drug cost.

Your insurance company will send out a summary of drugs spending every three months that is worth reviewing to see if you are in jeopardy of higher medication costs, especially toward the end of the year.

The Medicare coverage gap that used to be known as the “donut hole” resets at the beginning of each year.

Find out if you qualify for low cost or free drugs from manufacturers

Many Medicare recipients automatically believe they cannot get extra help; especially if they are ineligible for government assisted subsidies. But that isn’t always the case.

Check with your doctor for patient assistance programs or visit needymeds.org to look at medications and qualifications that you might be able to get outside of using your drug plan.

You can also get a drug discount card that is printable for a small donation that could possibly help.

If you are on insulin and reach the Medicare coverage gap you should also know drug companies can help during the time you are without complete coverage. Insulin costs are generally high and patients taking the injections are often the same ones that fall into the donut hole coverage gap.

You’ll want to prepare ahead of time so as not to have gaps in your medication regimen.

There are also a few other ways to save on Medicare prescription drugs.

Ask your doctor for samples - doing this throughout the year could mean extra pocket money. Diabetics should explore insulin types and costs through WalMart that is often less expensive that drug copayment. You would need to have an open discussion with your doctor about need to save money and what if the insulin types available are the right treatment for you.