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Generic options can cut pill bill
05-Oct-2008: In addition to cooling temperatures, for many of us, fall means we're handed a packet of materials and asked to ponder our medical benefits as part of open enrollment season.
So as you review your health care budget, remember that you may be able to save big on prescription drugs. At two pharmacies just a mile apart, for example, the price of the same medication can differ dramatically.
That's why doing your homework before heading to the drugstore is just one way to cut costs on prescription drugs. As the price of prescription drugs rises at a steady clip, here are tips to keep in mind.
The easiest way to cut down on the cost of drugs is to ask for your prescription to be filled with a generic version. Despite their no-frills sound, generic drugs are no less effective, so you should always find out if this lower-cost option is available.
How to save money on prescriptions Photos Generics are available for more than three-quarters of the 11,000 federally approved drugs on the market, according to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.
Even if a generic is not available, you may still be able to find a cheaper alternative. For example, someone with heartburn could save more than $100 a month by taking over-the-counter Prilosec instead of Nexium, said Gail Shearer, director of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs.
Before changing medications, of course, people should talk to their doctors about any impact a switch might have on their condition.
Call ahead to nearby pharmacies to get price quotes before heading out — especially if you're buying a brand-name drug.
Many large discount stores also have free or low-price generic drugs. Retailers such as Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. offer $4 prescription programs. Target offers hundreds of generics at $4 for a 30-day supply, $10 for a 90-day supply.
Many people have become accustomed to renting movies by mail. Your health is certainly more significant, but if you haven't tried it you should also look into cutting costs by filling prescriptions by mail.
If you're on a daily medication you'll certainly want to investigate. It's likely that the pharmacy program of your benefits package will offer 90-day supplies at discounted prices.
Most drugs sold in America are available for little or nothing through programs that help people with no health coverage, inadequate coverage, low to moderate incomes or serious illnesses.
Lastly, proceed carefully before signing up for commercial discount programs, coupons or drug freebies. Upon closer inspection you may find that they are backed by pharmaceutical companies, and critics say they often steer consumers toward name-brand drugs.
Source: Sun-Sentinel.com, FL