Saving Money on Medicine

November 16, 2009 8:01:53 AM PST
As more people face unemployment and costlier healthcare, many are struggling to pay for necessary medications, but there are some tricks to help contain cost. Tom Quicksell was laid off from his job several months ago. Now with no health insurance, he's struggling to pay for his medications.

"I went from a minimal co-pay of $10 to $15 a month to some prescriptions costing over $160 a month for one," he said.

Tom's parents face the same problem, even with health insurance. His father needs six medications to stay healthy and he said many are expensive.

Dr. Mitchelll Marder, a family doctor in Philadelphia, said now more than ever, people are struggling to afford prescription drugs. Some are even skipping doses to save money and that can lead to big trouble.

"Trips to the emergency room with chest pain or heart attack, diabetics not taking their meds can go into a diabetic shock or coma," he said.

That's why, it's vital to follow doctor's orders and ask for help if your pocket is feeling the pinch.

"I think it's important people don't have too much pride and ask because quite often we don't know you need help if you don't tell us," Dr. Marder said.

So that's tip number one: Ask your doctor for help.

Tip number two: look for generic drugs as cheaper alternatives. Many pharmacies are now offering many generics for just $4.

Tip number three: look for coupons.

Dr. Marder said many drugs come with coupons, rebates or discount cards. You can ask for some at your doctor's office for some or you can look online. You can find them on the manufacturers' website or by visiting: www.needymeds.org

Of course the best way to save on drugs is to prevent needing them.

So tip four: Live healthy. Eat healthy and exercise.

In some cases, taking some low-cost vitamins and supplements can also help.

Tip number five: Talk to your doctor about vitamins and supplements.

"A lot of times taking over-the-counter fish oil will be helpful in lowering triglycerides, helping arthritis and even constipation sometimes," Dr. Marder said.

Also, vitamins with niacin and phytosterols can help lower cholesterol, and may buy you more time before you need more expensive statin drugs.

Sheryl Cross is no stranger to natural remedies. While battling cancer, Dr. Michelle Ququndah, a naturopathic doctor at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America helped Sheryl supplement her pharmaceutical therapy with plant-based products. In fact for nausea, she was able to take less of the expensive prescription drugs, by taking the supplement gingermax. It costs just 25- cents per pill and is said to be just as effective.

For severe joint pain, some patients may be able to skip prescription medication and get relief from BCQ. It's a combination of herbs That'll save you up to $69 for a one-month supply.

For Tom senior, he's pursuing tip number six: Apply for help from the pharmaceutical companies. Although not everyone is eligible but for some, they can get assistance. Again to apply, visit: www.needymeds.org

The younger Tom was able to switch some of his meds to generics and got a new job so he will have health benefits starting soon. Until then, he's trying to manage paying out of pocket for medicine, knowing his health is worth it.

"Because if you don't have your health, then nothing else is really going to matter," he said.

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