4 Tips for Lowering Your Prescription Costs in Retirement

Table of Contents:

  1. Ask for Generics
  2. Order Your Medication in Bulk
  3. Choose the Right Medicare Part D Plan
  4. Ask for Help

Healthcare is a major expense for seniors, and it can also be an unpredictable one. Changes to your medical needs could result in a world of added costs, especially when it comes to medication. If you’re worried about covering your prescription costs later in life, or are already struggling in this regard, here are a few ways to make that expense more manageable.

Ask for Generics

Switching from a brand-name medication to a generic isn’t the same thing as switching formulas. Drug makers that produce generics must submit to FDA regulations, which dictate that those alternatives serve as substitutions for their brand-name counterparts. The one way generics do differ from brand-name drugs, however, is in their cost. With a generic drug, you might pay just a fraction of what you pay for its brand-name counterpart. In fact, generics are said to save consumers between $8 and $10 billion annually, according to the Congressional Budget Office.*

Order Your Medication in Bulk

If there’s a medication you take on an ongoing basis, ordering it in bulk could slash your costs substantially. In some cases, you might pay the same price for a three-month supply of a given drug as you would for a single month’s supply.

Choose the Right Medicare Part D Plan

The prescription drug coverage you choose will dictate how much you pay for the medications you take. Each Medicare Part D drug plan has its own formulary that determines how much specific medications cost. If your plan places the prescriptions you take into a higher tier, you’ll pay more for them than you would for lower-tiered drugs. That’s why it pays to assess your Part D options carefully and see how each plan classifies the drugs you take. 

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Keep in mind, however, that Part D formularies can change from one year to the next, so just because your medications aren’t overwhelmingly costly at present doesn’t mean they won’t go up in the future. You should make a point to review your Part D plan choices during Medicare’s open enrollment period, which runs from October 15 through December 7 each year.** When weighing your options, however, be sure to look at the cost of your Part D premiums as well as what your specific medications will cost you.

Ask for Help

Some drug manufacturers have programs in place to help seniors pay for their medications. If you take a drug that’s on the costly side, it pays to see if such a program exists. Medicare has a tool on its website that lets you research your options by medication name.*** Furthermore, it may be possible to get help paying for your medications at the state level. Generally, this option is reserved for lower-income seniors, but it’s certainly worth researching the programs that are available where you live.**** Finally, don’t hesitate to discuss your financial circumstances with your doctors, who may be able to suggest lower-cost alternatives to the drugs you currently take or need.

When you’re on a fixed income, you can’t afford to spend extra on prescriptions. The more money you save on medications, the less financial stress you’ll experience.

* Woolston, Chris M.S., (2019). Generic Drug Saving HealthDay. Retrieved October, 2019
** Anonymous, (2019). Find a 2020 Medicare Plan. Medicare.gov. Retrieved October, 2019
*** Anonymous, (2019). Pharmaceutical Assistance Program. Medicare.gov. Retrieved October, 2019
**** Anonymous, (2019). State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program. Medicare.gov. Retrieved October, 2019