Why It’s Smart to Compare Prescription Medication Prices Before You Buy

by Shelly Kramer
Why It’s Smart to Compare Prescription Medication Prices Before You Buy
Prescription medication costs are high, and they can vary depending on where you live. The price is impacted by the cost of living, where you purchase your prescriptions, and many other factors. Today, there are many ways to shop for prescription medications, whether online or in person. No matter where you live or where you plan to buy the drugs you need for your health, it’s smart to compare prescription medication prices before you get your prescriptions filled. Here’s what you need to know before you shop around.

Prescription Medication Can Be Expensive

You’ve probably noticed by now that some drugs are really expensive, even after insurance pays its share—which seems to be an ever-decreasing share, by the way! And in some cities, medication is particularly pricey. According to GoodRx, these are the most expensive cities for prescription drugs:
City Percent Above National Average
New York, New York +20.10%
San Francisco, California +12.60%
Los Angeles, California +9.80%
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania +7.90%
San Diego, California +6.40%
Raleigh, North Carolina +4.30%
Birmingham, Alabama +3.90%
Orlando, Florida +2.80%
Cleveland, Ohio +2.50%
Sacramento, California +2.20%
But even if you don’t live in any of these places, you’ll still likely find that certain medications are pricier than you’d expect. But don’t despair. You’re not necessarily required to pay the first price you see. You can shop around and compare prescription medication prices. In fact, you should! Luckily, there are a few ways to save, starting with the ideas below. Want other ways to save money while improving your health? Check out: 7 Strategies for Eating Healthy on a Budget

Compare Prescription Medication Prices at Big Box vs. Mom and Pop Stores

Let’s say the medication you need seems to be out of your budget at your preferred pharmacy. Instead of cringing as you hand over your credit card, why not shop around so you can compare prescription medication prices? You might find that mom and pop stores have different prices than chain drugstores. For example, big names like Walmart often sell 30-day supplies of generic drugs for $4. You won’t see that price at the typical mom and pop! At the same time, if your local big box stores are selling the medication you need at what seems like an absurdly high price, it’s worth your time to visit or call some mom and pop stores so you can compare prescription medication prices before you buy. You might be surprised at how cheap your medication is at a store you didn’t even think about!

Use Coupons to Pay Less

Maybe you already use coupons at the grocery, but have you considered using them to pay for prescription medication? Did you even know they have coupons for this? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. As much as I love saving money, I’ve never thought to present a coupon at my local pharmacy. But it turns out this is a great way to save on medications you need. For example, you can use the GoodRx site to find discounts—including coupons—on the medication you need. GoodRx users save an average of about 59 percent off regular prices for medications when they print out the coupons they find on the site, so it makes sense to try to find a coupon for the drug you need. Think about it. If your medication costs $100, simply printing out a coupon could save you $59, which means your total is now $41. Using a coupon after you compare prescription medication prices probably sounds pretty good right now, huh?

Ask for a Longer Prescription Supply

Buying in bulk is a great way to save money on water bottles, granola bars, and prescription medications. Wait, what? That’s right. When you buy more pills at one time, you typically get a lower price per unit in the long run. So if you normally pay $50 for a 30-day supply, you might pay $130 for a 90-day supply. It all depends on the pharmacy you choose and the coupons you use once you compare prescription medication prices. Sure, you might need to ask your doctor specifically for a longer supply of medication, and depending on what it is, you might not be able to get a 90-day supply. But it’s always worth a try if you want to save money! If the medication you need is to alleviate back pain, you might appreciate: 5 Simple Exercises You Can Do If You Have Back Pain

Get Money-Saving Help from Your Doctor

If you’re consistently having trouble finding medication for a price you can comfortably afford, let your doctor know. He or she might be able to prescribe you a cheaper alternative that works just as well. Doctors also often have free samples and coupons for patients, so don’t be shy about showing your interest in saving money on medication. Additionally, talk to pharmacists as you compare prescription medication prices at different stores. They might have some ideas on more affordable medications you can try, along with coupons or information on upcoming sales on the medications you need. As you can see, it’s worthwhile to compare prescription medication prices when you’re on a budget. Do you have any other secrets for saving money on medication? Let us know in the comments! If you’re trying to get healthier, remember that an apple a day keeps the doctor away! Read: The One Superfood You Should Eat Everyday: Apples More resources on saving money on prescription medication: Here Are the Most, and Least, Expensive Cities for Prescription Medication How to Pay Less for Your Meds Benefits of Mom & Pop Owned and Big Chain Pharmacy Stores