How to shop smart for medications: A simple binder method

Filed Under: Costs, Health plans, Patients

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This post about how to buy medications thoughtfully as a smart consumer appeared on one of my online groups. I thought it was so wise that I asked the author if I could post it here, and she agreed. The writer is Moyra Phillips, Huntsville, Ala., who identifies herself as “a wife, mother, grandmother.” The online group is SmartPatients.com, an online community for motivated patients and their families and friends where people can learn at their own level about scientific developments related to disease, share questions and concerns with other members, and use what they have learned in the context of their own lives.


By Moyra Phillips

Another post on the cost of drugs…

http://health.yahoo.net/articles/healthcare/express-scripts-drops-coverage-some-high-cost-drugs

Besides our cancer drugs/treatments I am sure our families have occasions to take prescription drugs and the costs really add up, even with insurance.

I would like to offer up a suggestion to combat the costs that I use. If you are in the USA many places offer cheap and free prescription drugs no matter what your income.

The Publix grocery store offers a variety of free drugs:

http://www.publix.com/pharmacy/Free-Medications.do

Drugs like Lisinopril, Metformin and a variety of Antibiotics are completely free.

Stores like Kroger and Walmart offer $4.00 per prescription drugs:

http://www.kroger.com/PHARMACY/GENERICS/Pages/default.aspx

http://www.walmart.com/cp/PI-4-Prescriptions/1078664

What I do is I keep a printed list from all three of the above sources in a binder. EVERY TIME I GO TO THE DOCTOR, I bring the binder with me. When the doctor looks at the hubby or the Vet looks at the dog I give them the binder and say….”is there anything in this binder that he can take that will work just as well?”

Doctors usually have absolutely no idea what drugs cost. Using this binder has saved me tons of money.

Continuity of care is extremely important. If, in shopping for the best prices, you decide to use more than one pharmacy, be sure to give each pharmacy you use a complete list of all drugs you take.

I keep a list of all the current drugs for all family members in the front of my binder along with the price I paid and what pharmacy I used. As medications change, I update the list. I also show the list to my favorite pharmacies to see if they might match a price from somewhere else.

Also go beyond the co-pay price if you have insurance. A drug I take has a co-pay of $20 at one pharmacy, but costs just $8.90 full price at another pharmacy. Dollars are too tight to just throw them away.”

And yes, I said take the binder to your veterinarian. I worked for a vet for years. Vet specific drugs are expensive and most of us do not have pet insurance for medicine. Most dogs (not usually cats, though) can take people drugs. A vet does have to calculate a formula for usage that takes into account the dog’s breed, age, weight, health, etc. Some people drugs (especially OTCs are very toxic to animals) so a vet HAS to do the “math.”

Example: My Saint Bernard has to take (when she is in pain) 5-6 Ultram (Tramadol Hcl) at a time. Yep, 5, 50mg. The husband is on 2 at a time of the same drug. Tramadol is on the Kroger $4 drug list.

I would suggest going to the websites of your local stores to see what they might offer.

Hope this helps someone. 🙂