One of the toughest things a senior has to do during retirement is figure out how to keep their medical expenses under control. As you age, it is natural for medical expenses to increase, as you may need to increase your reliance on more medications. As meds are an important part of daily living, doing without is not an option. Trying to figure out how to pay for medications whilst living on a pension can be difficult and depressing for low income earners.
Below are some tips on how to get a hold of free or low cost medications.
Generic over Brand Name
The largest savings for medications, by as much as a 90% discount can be had simply by buying only generic prescriptions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to only provide generic alternatives. Even if you are covered under insurance, these lower costs can help in the long run.
Also, by asking your doctor for the cheapest alternative…they may also provide you with some free samples – they often get these from the different pharmaceutical companies.
Forget the Chains
The pricing of medications in Australia can be very different based on where you purchase. Every retailer has their own pricing strategy and considers it a proprietary secret. With major pharmacy chains they often list their retail price at the extreme high point so they do not upset their major insurance clients, while cash buyers often suffer from these high costs. There are two ways to save on medications by avoiding these high retail list prices. The first is to haggle these prices as almost every chain pharmacy will lower their prices for cash buyers or long time regulars.
Secondly and more importantly for your budget, simply skip the big chains. You may think small mom and pop independents would be more expensive, but in a recent consumer report, most smaller chemist start at a lower price and still offer lower prices to those that haggle on the price.
Long Term View
If you have a medical condition like Type 2 Diabetes or high cholesterol, you may want to look for a long term prescription such as a 90 day prescription. Instead of paying three copays, you can pay only one. Also buying a 90 day supply at some retailers may get you even better discounts if you ask. If the saving are there, try buying in bulk.
In line with setting up a long term view on getting the lowest price for medications, look to bring all your medication business to one retailer instead of spreading it out. You may pay more on a couple items, but with customer loyalty programs or bulk purchasing you can often reduce prices even further. This is especially true if they see you as a loyal long term customer.
Don’t forget to compare online pharmacies as they may have further reduction on their costs. Always make sure that you are taking full advantage of your Concession Card and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).