Spend Less at the Pharmacy in 5 Easy Steps

Blues Perspectives

| 3 min read

Bargain hunters, rejoice. Saving money can extend way beyond grocery store coupons and shopping for clothes during the off-season. These days, it’s possible to save money at the pharmacy, too—you just need to know how.
Before you get your next prescription filled, check out this list of new and innovative ways to reduce your bill for your medications:
  • Cut back on brand-name meds: Did you know generic drugs have the same benefits as brand-name ones? It’s true, and many generics can cost 80-85% less, according to estimates from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Save money by opting for generic prescriptions whenever possible.
  • Consider mail-order prescriptions: People are busy, and some days it’s hard to find time for a trip to the pharmacy. So why not skip it completely? Several pharmacy plans offer mail-order prescriptions, which can save more than 30% on out-of-pocket costs by having medications delivered straight to your home.
    • To learn more about mail-order, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) members can login into their account at bcbsm.com or the Blue Cross mobile app. Click on My Coverage, then Prescription, then Order Online or Mail Order if using the mobile app.
  • Make use of step therapy: Doctors can also help you save by prescribing medications via step therapy. This program has your doctor first prescribe less expensive drugs that have been proven effective for patients with similar conditions. Then, if needed, you’ll “step up” to a more expensive medication. This gradual approach to prescription treatment helps you stay your healthiest, at the lowest cost possible.
  • Use online resources: As a BCBSM or Blue Care Network (BCN) member, you have access to the online member portal and Blue Cross mobile app. Your online accounts can help you evaluate drug prices and look for lower-cost alternatives to the prescriptions you take. You can also opt to have certain prescriptions transferred to home delivery, or mail order.
  • Go long: If you take any prescriptions for chronic conditions, getting a 90-day supply can save you both time and money, if this benefit is part of your health plan. Rather than paying a copay on three 30-day supplies, you’d pay less for a 90-day supply. Reach out to your pharmacy or provider to make the switch.
Although drug coupons may save you money at first, they are not a reliable way to save on your prescription medicines. Many coupons are only offered for a one-time use, and costs go up significantly for refills.
Drug manufacturers offer coupons for expensive medications, but there may be more affordable options available. That means using coupons can actually end up increasing your total out-of-pocket costs. One thing to remember: if you use coupons and get prescriptions filled at different pharmacies, your pharmacist won’t be able to track how much of a medication you’ve taken or identify potential drug interactions.
If you’re a BCBSM or BCN member, click here to see what cost-effective medications are covered by your plan. Learn more about OptumRX home delivery by logging into your online member account.
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Photo credit: Getty Images
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association