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Experts Offer Tips on Cutting Prescription Drug Costs for Seniors

Almost one third of people age 65 and older are taking five or more prescription drugs per year, resulting in senior citizens being hit hardest by the rising costs of prescription drugs. That’s according to a University of Chicago study looking at polypharmacy- the name for the practice of putting people on multiple drugs.  People age 65 and older consume 30% of all prescription drugs and 40% of all over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, which is more than any other group. It’s no longer enough for seniors and their families to just be smart patients and learn about their medications. Now they also must be smart consumers and shop around for the best price.

Consider these money saving medicine tips:

1. Do you have more medicine than needed?

Review all medications, vitamins and supplements with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure everything is necessary and that medications and supplements are not counteracting each other. People often keep filling prescriptions longer than needed or without knowing a less expensive medication has been developed.

2. Go generic

Generic drugs often cost 30-80% less. In addition, many health plans require lower co-pays for generic drugs. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if a generic substitute is available for any of your medications.  Your doctor will need to approve any changes.

3. Ask your doctor about costs

Doctors do not always know the prices of the medicines they prescribe or they might be uncomfortable talking about drug prices. Tell your doctor if a drug is too expensive and ask if there are alternatives.

4. Shop around and get the senior discount

Just because one pharmacy has the best price on one medication does not mean it has the best price on all of them. Shop around, and don’t forget to ask if there is a senior citizen discount.  Make any pharmacist aware of all of the medications, vitamins and supplements you take to ensure you do not have an adverse reaction or ineffective medication.

5. Buy in bulk

Consider buying more than the standard 30-day supply of medicine because buying more pills at once is often the best value. Many maintenance drugs are available by mail at lower costs with a 90 day supply.

6. Ask For Samples

Many times doctors have free samples of some medications that are left by drug company representatives. But do not be surprised at the price once the free medicines run out.
As a general rule, it’s reasonable for seniors to meet with their doctor every three to six months to review medications and supplements and ask “Do I need to stay on this?”

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