Your Doctor Might Want To Save You Some Money

Most doctors don’t discuss the cost of prescriptions with their patients, but they might if you bring along a list of the drugs your insurance will cover:

As a physician, I want to offer my perspective on the “sticker shock” problem in the pharmacy. I am very conscious of the fact that my patients may not be able to afford medications I prescribe.

Almost all medications have alternatives, and I wish I knew which would be cheapest when I am writing the prescription. Patients with drug coverage could save a lot of time and money if they brought the list of drugs covered by their insurance to every doctor visit.

I also want to know how much patients pay for drugs. I wish they would call the office if the prescription is too expensive! Most of the time, I’d be able to identify a cheaper alternative to prescribe.

The more you talk to your doctor the better, it seems, so bring that list and ask about your options. Another good resource to use is Best Buy Drugs from Consumer Reports. They list the cheapest, most effective drugs with the best safety record.—MEGHANN MARCO

Doctor Wants To Help Patients Save Money [Bradenton Herald via Thrifty Mommy]


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  1. stephen5 says:

    You should also always ask your doctor if he have any samples of the drug he is prescribing you.

    My mother had a long, chronic illness, rather than writing her a prescription for an off the list drug that he wanted her to take, her doctor just loaded her up with samples on her monthly visits.

  2. kerry says:

    This is very true. My doctors never know which drugs my insurance will cover (why would they?), but are very open to discussion about alternatives when I come prepared with what my insurance will and will not cover. I’ve never done the research preemptively, only on a follow up visit (“hey, I had to pay $100 for these pills because they’re not covered, what are my alternatives?”).
    Doctor’s don’t want to gouge patients, they just don’t know what will and won’t be covered when they write out the prescription.

  3. ckilgore says:

    My daughter had been getting ear drops that were a whopping $40 a bottle and last time I went to the doctor I asked him if there was a generic we could get. There wasn’t, but there was an alternative drop that costs only $10. I just had to ask.

    So, yeah, this is good advice.

  4. FunPaul says:

    You might want to keep a copy of your plan’s prescription drug formulary.
    My plan sent me a brochure with a list of the top 500 drugs that are requested. It listed alternatives next to common drug brands that they don’t cover.
    I’m planning on taking that to my doctor next time.
    One other opportunity that some people might have is mail service. My prescription benefits manager offers a 90 day prescription mail service for my regular meds, it comes in at about half the price. Every 90 days I get my drugs, the cost is deducted out of my HRA.
    I also don’t make those impulse buys when I go to the pharmacy.

  5. While I was uninsured I signed up for programs to help me pay for my medication. The doctor I was seeing at the time was helpful but the people at the front desk were not.

    I made the mistake of being too specific when asked what the visit was for. They insisted on looking through my paperwork and insisting that they “didn’t know what to do with this” even though I told them I needed to see my doctor about it. I actually had to leave and schedule another appointment just to get to my doctor (and be as vauge as possible about the reason for the visit).

  6. amb1545 says:

    Asking for samples is probably the best advice I’ve seen.

    I was seeing a psychiatrist last year to be treated for depression. If you know anything about treating depression with meds, you’ll know that it can take a lot of trial-and-error to figure out what comination works best for you. Fortunately, my doctor had a constant supply of samples with which he would load me up on, which really eased the burden on me as I was uninsured and these prescriptions would easily cost me $300-500/month.

    The only caveat is that he only had samples of name-brand drugs. Once I switched to Prozac, I had to break down and get a prescription because a generic version existed.

    Overall, he saved me thousands of dollars while I was seeing him.

  7. etinterrapax says:

    Substitute “teacher” for “doctor” and I could have written this about college course textbooks. I don’t know why my students don’t come and see me. I almost always have at least one copy to give away, and a line on several more that are half price or less. It never hurts to ask, and there’s a difference between making a straightforward inquiry and sacrificing your pride. Some people really just want to help.

  8. kusine says:

    Don’t forget to ask the veterinarian when they’re prescribing drugs for your pet, either. This works best with dogs bigger than about 40 lbs., since they are often prescribed doses that are close to human doses.

    Ask your vet if the drug is also prescribed for humans. If it is, ask them for a prescription. The odds are very, very good that you can get it for cheaper at a pharmacy. Call around to get prices, too. If you find out that the dose they prescribed isn’t available because it’s not a typical human dose, find out what the standard dosing is, then call your vet back and see if they can change the prescription to use that.

    You can save a ton of money this way, and get the exact same drugs. Today, I got two free weeks of amoxicillin for my dog for free from Meijer, and all I had to do was ask for a scrip!

  9. I don’t know why my students don’t come and see me.

    Why would they think you have books to give away? Seriously, why would it occur to a college student to ask the professor to get a book for them?

  10. My doctor used to give me samples as well. Thanks Doc!

  11. AcidReign says:

    …..Asking your doctor to consider drug price is a no-brainer. They’ll go generic a lot of the time, give out samples, etc. You can also gauge how important said drug is, by their reaction. If they warn you about cheaping out, your condition might be pretty serious! If you’re getting the blanket, cover his ass antibiotic, you can tell. I chuck those prescriptions in the trash. I just wanted the doctor’s excuse for missing work, anyway.

    …..Antibiotics and anti-depressants are ridiculously over-prescribed in the US. Resist, or in a few generations, our kids will have nothing with which to treat infections!

  12. facted says:

    Acid: Antibiotics aren’t necessarily over-priced…it’s just that the ones that most people need (the VERY cheap ones, for the most part), aren’t the ones they’re given, because doctors go overboard for simple infections. But I do agree that most people should heed the advice of resiting antibiotics (esp. for common colds).

  13. brilliantmistake says:

    Finding a good pharmacist can help a lot as well. I switched to a small, non-chain, pharmacy from Longs after they went out of their way to help find lower cost meds for my sick kitty. For my own needs, they know a lot about insurance coverage, and they often know more about the medications than my doctor. Even though their hours are less convenient than the chains, I would never switch back.